Sunday Night

I went out running with my eldest daughter again this evening – another ten sets of two minutes running, one minute walking. Our next run will be on Tuesday night at the running club in town – heading out onto the streets with the unlikely band of “Couch to 5K” runners. I still feel a bit like a fraud, given that I can probably run 5K now at quite a clip – I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not doing it for me.

I haven’t told my daughter that she ran considerably faster tonight. As predicted, being thirty years younger means she’s getting better remarkably quickly. It will be interesting to see how her will power is when the run lengths increase.

What else has been going on today?

I wasted a couple of hours playing Minecraft this afternoon. After getting the chores done around the house I vanished into the pretend world, and completely lost track of time. Falling into lava by accident and burning to death served as a wake-up call of sorts. I haven’t logged back in since.

(When you die in Minecraft, everything falls out of your pockets – so anything your character had about their person can be retrieved. Unfortunately if you fall in lava, everything burns. Ergo – I lost quite a number of imaginary things that are of no consequence to the real world, so I don’t know why I’m even telling you).

How on earth is it 10pm on Sunday night already ? Where did the weekend go ? I’m tempted to stay up all night playing retro games – I installed a number of emulators for long-forgotten systems on my old laptop the other night. I got them working, but didn’t get around to playing any games.

I think perhaps before I do that I’ll go make a coffee. Coffee always seems like the best way to start any damn fool activity late at night.

Saturday Morning in Starbucks

I overslept this morning. Spectacularly. Well – spectacularly for me. I didn’t scrape myself out of bed until 9am, and then my head reminded me that I drank three glasses of wine while watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” late last night. It’s taken me until now (an hour and a half later) to come round. I really can’t drink any more.

I’m not quite sure how I missed “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – I remember seeing adverts for it years ago, but it wasn’t until listening to Marc Maron’s podcast yesterday where he interviewed Danny DeVito that the seed was sown to watch it.

I’m sitting in Starbucks, if you were wondering about the title of this post. Miss 14 is at football practice – at the big park down by the river. I walked into town with her, on the agreement she can come and find me when she finishes. I’ve holed myself up at a table at the far end – away from the hubbub of trophy mums and label clad youngsters. There’s an impossibly pretty blonde mum sitting just across from me with her little girl. She’s intimidatingly beautiful – and making me self conscious about my scruffy combats, hoodie, and nerdy t-shirt.

At least I had a shave today.

Whenever I find myself killing time in public spaces, my mind wanders off to Walter Mitty adventures – imagining unlikely scenes unfolding between the people nearby. Obviously I’m going to elope with that blonde lady – you know – the one I would find it impossible to talk to without stumbling over words, and laughing at entire sentences I didn’t even say.

First Training Run

After walking nearly 5K to and from work today (thanks Mr Farmer for puncturing my bike tyres with your hedgerow annihilation device), I ate dinner, washed up, and then immediately got changed into my bargain basement running kit to head out with Miss 19.

We have been tasked with running “intervals” every other day inbetween the weekly meet-ups at the running club in town. This week we have to do ten sets of two minutes running, and one minute walking.

Here’s the funny thing – Miss 19 really, really didn’t want to go out this evening. Somehow I arm-twisted her into it, even though it was spitting with rain outside, and pretty damn cold. The complaints came thick and fast – “I’ve got a stitch”, “my legs hurt”, “I can’t do this”…

Here’s the even funnier thing – ten minutes later, her entire mood had turned around. She realised she COULD do it, and was DOING it. She ran every interval, didn’t cheat at all, and ended the evening with a huge smile on her face.

I’m SO proud of her.

There’s Something In the Air

I’ve been here before. When life gets in the way, I think about shutting the blog down. I’ve followed through on it in the past, only to return a few weeks or months later. Thoughts of ending the almost seventeen year unbroken run of idiocy have been resurfacing again recently – I have confided in one or two close friends, and they pretty much laughed in my face.

“You do this every few months – sometimes every month – you do realise that, right?”

They are probably right.

I just know that these inward looking, recursive posts are becoming ever so sightly insane. There is more to life than this damn blog – there are books to be read, movies to be watched, and friends to catch up with – and yet there is only so much time in the day. I can’t do it all. There’s also the thought of writing something real – something proper – something that might become a short story, or a book.

Maybe I just need to slow down – not pressure myself into posting something or other nearly every day – and yet I look around and see so many I know plastering their life all over Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Tumblr, and wherever else. I wonder how they do it – how they find time.

I need to find more time. I’ve searched my pockets already, and it’s still a mystery.

In other news, my head torch arrived in the post today. Now I can go running and do Dalek impersonations at the same time. I wonder if the rest of the running group will be weirded out by the tall guy shouting “EXTERMINATE” at strangers ?

Couch to 5K

My other half “suggested” that I might like to accompany our eldest daughter to the running club in town this week – to start on their “Couch to 5K” running programme. And that’s how I ended up walking across town in the rain after work this evening, and standing in front of a room full of strangers, pulling reflective bibs on, and listening to a confident sounding lady explain what we were going to do.

I kept quiet about eating half a packet of chocolate chip cookies after getting in from work.

Having missed the first week, it felt like most of the people already knew each other – they congregated into small groups, deep in conversation and laughter while waiting for everybody to arrive.

Eventually we all trudged out into the rain and started doing warm-up exercises – jogging this way and that, doing lunges, skipping, and whatever else the leader of the group thought up. There were perhaps twenty of us – ranging from late teens, through to late sixties.

I felt like a bit of a fraud, to be honest – for the next thirty minutes or so we ran and walked through town – two minutes running, one minute walking – repeating the pattern ten times. I could probably have run the whole thing. Yes, yes, I know you’re not supposed to do stupid things like that straight away, but then I don’t suppose anybody else on the course cycles six miles every day either.

Miss 19 did well. Considering she hasn’t done any exercise at all since perhaps her third year at secondary school (five years ago), she kept going like a trooper. Given that she’s nearly thirty years younger than me, I imagine she will over-take me by the time we get to the 5K “graduation” race at the end of the course – or at least she will if she sticks at it.

I ran in my usual heavy raincoat tonight – I don’t own a “running coat” – or at least I won’t until it arrives in the post tomorrow. I scoured Amazon for the cheapest bright yellow waterproof that had decent reviews. An order has also gone in for two head torches – the nights are drawing in, and the street lighting around town is pretty abysmal.

Anyway. First week done. Time to start recording some miles on the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone.

Departure Daydreams

It’s been an interesting day – not least because the huge project that has devoured my life over the course of the last few months has gone live, and is suddenly becalmed – with thousands of people interacting with it, and hundreds more overseeing it. The world doesn’t stand still however – I’m already working on another project – facing another mountain.

A co-worker sprang a surprise on us all this morning – announcing that he has handed his notice in. He’s taken a job working in London – chasing a career path, and more money. While initially envious, when I started thinking about the commute, the cost of the commute, and the hit he will take on his life, I kept quiet. Good luck to him. I did it for a couple of years, and although I often say I miss it, I’m not sure I could do it again.

It’s funny – when somebody leaves that you’ve known for a long time, the conversation in the office falls in-line with the “if I won the lottery” conversation. “If I ever left, I would do this”, or “If I left, I would do that”. While this circular conversation went on, the focus fell on me, and I think everybody was somewhat surprised.

“If I ever leave, I can’t imagine I’ll work in IT again”.

My co-workers thought I was joking, until I explained that I’ve pretty much been there and done it now – I’ve designed and built software used by thousands, taught rooms full of people how to build things all over the country, flown back and forth across Europe helping various organisations to lurch forwards – and I’m kind of done with it all.

Sure, I’ll carry on plodding for the foreseeable future, but that has more to do with expectation and obligation than any sort of mission or aim. I need to pay a mortgage, put food on the table, and keep the lights on. My job allows that to happen. Sometimes I feel a bit trapped by it, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not the most terrible burden to carry.

When wondering what I might do if given a choice, I wonder about writing – or perhaps working somewhere that deals with writing. Given the near twenty year legacy of blog posts dragging behind me across the various internet platforms, it might seem natural that I would end up at Automattic or Tumblr. Perhaps one day.

I wonder if Matt looks out for posts like these?

In other news, the running shoes have arrived – they’re sitting on the floor next to the chair I’m sitting in right now. Miss 19’s running shoes arrived too. We almost went out for a run this evening, but the rain had other ideas. Of course the rain hasn’t stopped our bat-shit crazy little black cat from paddling into and out of the house all evening, leaving foot shaped puddles throughout the kitchen and lounge.

Running Shoes

I just ordered a pair of running shoes from Amazon – they will arrive tomorrow morning. I haven’t run any sort of distance in 10 years. I’m still wondering why (why I bought the shoes, not why I haven’t run).

My eldest daughter has been talking about doing a “couch to 5k” programme at our local running club – or rather, my other half told her about it, then talked to me about it in a “if you did it with her, I think she would really like it” kind of way. This roughly translates as “you’re going to do this, and if you don’t I will give you shit for quite some time about it”. A lot of my life kind of happens that way.

Here’s the funny thing – I’m looking forward to going running again. In the year or two before the children arrived in our lives I would routinely go running a couple of times a week – about five miles each time. In the ten years since I stopped running I’ve put on perhaps 20 pounds in weight (let’s blame it on pizza) – I could do with losing that extra baggage.

People automatically think that I should be ok at running because I cycle every day – but in reality running uses completely different muscles, so cycling ends up being oddly counter-productive.

Anywhere – there it is. Expect a blog post in the near future claiming I ran half a mile and nearly died.

Making it to the Weekend

I’ve been sitting in the dark of the junk room for last last hour, with every intention of writing something, but instead tinkering with this and that, daydreaming, or just gazing into space. I can’t help but remember a stand-up routine by Mickey Flanagan – complaining that getting nothing done is a worthy skill that should be held onto. At least I know I’m good at something though, right ?

It’s been a week. Today was another slog – finishing a little after 6pm after working straight through lunch for the fifth day in a row. I wonder what it is about clients that causes them to occasionally forget you’re a human being? I’m probably being over-dramatic, but that’s how it feels sometimes.

Anyway. We made it through the week more-or-less unscathed. I’m still running myself ragged while my other half recuperates from accidentally putting a swiss army knife through her hand last weekend. It’s healing well – but she’s still in a lot of pain – surviving on a cocktail of ibuprofen and paracetamol. Tonight she has slept since getting in from work.

In other news I returned to using the bullet journal. I tried to get on with Google Keep – I really did – but ultimately I only seem to remember things if I’ve written them down. There’s something about a paper notebook too – a permanence, and a feeling of crafting something when putting pen to paper. People often comment about my handwriting, but I would typically counter by simply observing that I care about how my writing looks – even if I’m the only person that sees it.

I feel like I should be excited that it’s the weekend, but the overwhelming feeling seems to be relief. Relief that I made it to the weekend. Perhaps I’ll actually get a chance to catch up with blogs over the next couple of days – to repay the kindness extended by those that have followed my recent adventures, and asked after me.

Into the Netherworld

Just as I thought I might be hitting my stride with this whole “blogging nearly every day” thing, work took a colossal dump on my life.

The project I’ve been working on for the last several months has lurched from “development” to “production”, and is being used by hundreds of users simultaneously – ramping up to thousands in the coming days. In the middle of the go-live, we realised there was a significant issue deep in the source code – the sort of issue that caused me to stay up until 4am working on, and then continue work on throughout the next day without stopping as the phone rang off the hook, before stumbling home and launching into the usual chores.

After clearing the decks, rather than read emails, write blog posts, or do anything else, I have played Minecraft with the kids. Four of us have headed into the imaginary world together and built houses, explored, and this evening mined enough obsidian to open a portal to the “Netherworld”.

How can I explain this to somebody that hasn’t played Minecraft before? If you’ve seen “Stranger Things”, you’ll know exactly what the Netherworld is. It might have even been the inspiration for the “Upside Down”. A horror strewn inversion of the normal world, populated with things that go bump in the night. I’ve never known the children so excited and terrified at the same time.

So. Here we are. It’s just gone 10pm, and I’m wondering about making a hot chocolate before heading to bed. Maybe I’ll catch up on some of the sleep I’ve lost in recent days. Maybe I’ll sit here instead and try to catch up on the many and various blog posts I haven’t read.

(We all know I’ll still be here in an hour, right?)

As Night Falls

The clock just ticked past 10pm. It’s been an eventful evening. After a long and stressful day at work, I received a call moments before leaving – asking if anybody could go and pick up my eldest daughter from a bus-stop a mile or so up the road. She was standing in the pouring rain, and two buses had already driven past full of passengers.

After calling across the office, and getting a number of thumbs up, I called back, and discovered Miss 19 was nearly home – a stranger at the bus stop had called a taxi, and offered everybody waiting the opportunity to share the cost.

I cycled home through the rain, and stopped at the supermarket to buy food for the next few days. After being told off at the doctor, my other half is on strict instructions not to do ANYTHING with her injured hand (kind of huge accident with a knife, if you didn’t see my post at the weekend). I filled my backpack and a shopping bag with supplies, and walked out into rain falling harder my the minute.

By the time I got home I was soaked through to my underwear, and greeted by a scene of devastation in the hallway, kitchen, and lounge. While unpacking the food, I realised I had not bought anything gluten free (two of my daughters are coeliac). I thought I had – but it turns out the supermarket has started packaging their own ready-meals in exactly the same packaging as the “free from” meals.

Yes – tonight we had ready meals – shoot me.

I pulled my coat back on, turned around, and walked back out into the rain – trudging the mile and a half route back into town for a second visit to the supermarket.

I got home a little after 7pm, and started cooking – summoning the children from each corner of the house at perhaps half-past. An hour later I was washing up, tidying up, and continuing the endless fight against a house filled with all manner of miscellaneous “stuff” – most of it intended for carnival floats, garden parties, knitting projects, junk modelling, fancy dress – you name it – we probably have it somewhere.

For the last hour I’ve been digging around in the junk room, trying to find a missing charger. Phone chargers are like gold dust in this house. One of the children obviously discovered the charger for the Raspberry Pi (which had been on the desk some time ago) was rated similarly to a fast-charger plug for mobile phones. It’s now nowhere to be seen.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do for the next little while. I should really go catch up on the blogs I attempt to read, but I’m ridiculously tired. I just downed a coffee, and it bounced off me with little or no effect at all. I think I may be immune to caffeine.