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Life

Not Feeling It

I got up this morning and went for a run, after not running for the last two days. I got up half an hour later than I should have, both my knees hurt when I started out, one of my feet went dead after a couple of miles, a tendon started to hurt a mile after that.

You know how you sometimes start to wonder “why am I even doing this?”.

I carried on though, and called it a day a little way from home – walking the last quarter of a mile. I’m kind of glad I carried on, and also amused at my own idiocy.

I took my phone for the run and recorded it on Strava. I’ve realised the main benefit of Strava isn’t to push me to go faster or further – it’s to guilt me into not stopping, because other people will see it.

After getting home, I dragged myself into the shower, and then got dressed. In a few minutes I’m walking back into town with my better half to get a birthday present for her Mum. She ran into the study panic-stricken last night, having forgotten her Mum’s birthday. Guess who was washing up baking tins at midnight last night ?

Anyway. Remind me to get some toothpaste in town – I ran out this morning.

Categories
Life

The Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner

I woke the first time with a start at 5am. I know this, because I looked at the clock before falling back asleep. I woke the second time at 8am, remembered I am on holiday, but also remembered about going running. One little voice said “but the bed is so comfy!”, while another little voice said “you’ll get enormously fat”. I’m turning into Gollum.

After scraping myself out of bed, I knocked on my teenage daughters bedroom doors, and enquired if they might be running with me.

Five minutes later, I left the house. Alone.

I didn’t really have a plan, and set off in the general direction of town – listening to my breathing, and not really feeling like running at all, but I was already out, and running, so thought it a bit stupid to stop. I would only have myself to answer to anyway.

While running along one of the suburban roads down by the river, a woman in her fifties (I’m guessing) ran past on the opposite footpath. She was hunched over, and running seemed like an enormous struggle for her, but she was doing it. She reminded me that I really have no excuses.

After looping back through town, I passed several people completely ignoring the one-way signs on the pavements (a very low effort way of safeguarding people from the virus). I’m not quite sure what level of stupidity and/or laziness is needed to ignore social distancing signage.

By the time I got home my other half had already left for work, and none of my daughters had yet surfaced. I busied myself with hanging washing out, filling the washing machine with the first of many loads, and clearing the kitchen and lounge of wreckage from the night before.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever know how our house so reliably destroys itself every evening. I’m pretty sure the missing mass in the universe is directly linked to pens people have “borrowed” from me, and unwashed tea spoons.

My eldest daughter surprised me mid-morning with a number of questions about bullet journaling. I’ve been writing in a bullet journal for the last two or three years – keeping a record of the things I do each day. I think she’s finally coming around to the whole “rapid logging” thing – where you DON’T make each page into a ridiculous faux arts and crafts production, and you just write down the things you have done, or the things you want to do.

I pointed her at the Ryder Carroll book on the bookshelf, which she studiously ignored.

Late this afternoon I let my middle daughter attempt to “air traffic control” me in the simulator. With her at one end of the house, and me at the other, she watched a radar screen, and barked instructions to direct me through a number of circuits of an airfield in southern England. I realised we might have a problem after the second time she told me to turn in the opposite direction than she meant. Somehow I don’t think air traffic controllers are ever heard saying “left, no, the other left”, “my bad”, or “you can do if you want”.

Anyway. One day of holiday used up. Very little achieved. Must try harder to do something of consequence tomorrow. Maybe a long walk. We’ll see.

Categories
Life

Stupid Like That

After scraping myself out of bed this morning I knocked on Miss 15’s bedroom door, and quietly enquired if she might be running. No answer. I then wandered down to Miss 19’s room, knocked on the door, and repeated the enquiry – with similar results.

Running alone again.

After finding a pair of running shorts from the washing line, and pulling yesterday evening’s t-shirt back on, I wandered out into the road – wondering if my recently broken toe would continue complaining as much as it had since getting up. I switched on STRAVA – an idiotic mobile app that keeps me accountable to myself – and set off.

I knew it was going to be warm. I don’t think I really registered quite how warm. After only a few minutes, I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my neck.

After perhaps a kilometre, approaching the high street, I had a decision to make – either be sensible and turn back across town – taking the safe option and not doing any mischief to myself – or keep running in a straight line and double the length of the loop – taking it out to five kilometres. I kept going straight on.

At the half-way mark, an argument of sorts was forming in my own head – between the rational me, and the idealistic me. I was calling myself an idiot for doing this running business at all. The stubborn me had also turned up to stoke the argument, and was busy telling the others not to dare let him give up and start walking.

I ran all the way back through town.

During the last kilometre I could swear all sorts of aches and pains appeared – I imagine warning lights were going off all over the place in front of the idiots arguing in my head.

I made it. Of course I made it – because I’m stupid like that. I ran 5K, and can get that particular monkey off my back. It was probably a bit stupid, jumping from week 5 of “Couch to 5K” straight to week 10, but then I had already run the first half twice in a row with my daughters.

I get the day off tomorrow. I’m guessing I’ll do it all again on Sunday though – because like I said – I’m stupid like that.

Categories
Life

Running Very Carefully

After a month keeping off a very broken toe, I finally got out running again this evening – although perhaps “running” is an exaggeration – more of a gentle jog. I jumped back into the Couch to 5K plan with my daughters, who have advanced all of 1 week since I last ran with them a month ago. The stunning lack of will-power in teenagers astounds me.

I’m so pleased my foot was alright. Strangely, walking hurts more than running. I can finally continue on the path to getting fit once again – and given that I now work from home, it’s become quite a bit more important than it was to at least do something each day.

If I get through this week without any secondary injuries showing up, I’m going to start extending the distance out while I’m off work over the next few weeks. It’s tempting to set goals already, but I really should just see how it goes – see how it feels each day.

Smiling like an idiot this evening.

Categories
Life

Friday

For those that don’t know, I very rarely write blog posts straight into the WordPress editor interface – I used to write everything in a text editor, save it into a neat and tidy folder structure, and copy it into WordPress. In recent months (since lockdown, I suppose), I have written in Google Docs, copied the text across.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I’ve had this post sitting on the screen all day – with no more than the title at the top – “Friday”. I typically give all posts the same title when I start writing, and then re-name them when a title presents itself. Quite often the title only relates to the final paragraph.

I don’t really have anything to report. My toe is still broken, the cat still has half his hair shaved off after his most recent hospital adventure, and I find myself becoming increasingly distant from “social” media.

I’m not sure that I’ve given up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on – so much as re-framed what they’re useful for. Or at least, what I find them useful for. I used to see “the social internet” as a way to reach out to the wider world – a way to discover interesting people, make friends, and share a little of each other’s lives. Somewhere along the way that all became somewhat poisonous though – Twitter became a place to stand on soapboxes and shout louder than the next person, Facebook became a place to have bitter disagreements with acquaintances, and Instagram became a place to show off.

I will admit to thinking quite a bit about shutting my blog down, and just reverting to a personal journal. I’ve thought about it before – I’ve DONE it before – but it doesn’t seem to be so much about me changing any more – it’s more about the world changing around me – becoming a little less friendly, a little more abrasive, and a little less welcoming.

I get it. Blogging has ALWAYS been a bit of an odd pursuit – sharing the guts of your day with a nameless audience. It’s just always been something I’ve done though – for twenty years now. I qualify it by telling myself that it helps keep me sane – and yet I filter perhaps half of the words I might share – all the most interesting stuff. The anger, the frustration, the gossip, the scandal, the unpopular opinions – the good stuff.

In other news, I weighed myself this morning. I’ve lost about 18 pounds since lockdown began. It’s not something I’ve done intentionally – we just haven’t bought any junk food for some time. It was mostly about saving money. If I lose another few pounds, I’ll be the same weight I was twenty years ago. Go me (sarcasm intended). I keep telling myself that I feel better for it, but I could murder a chocolate bar.

Categories
Life

Running, Motorbikes, and Pretend Plane Crashes

I’m at the stage of having fallen off the blogging horse where I’m starting to wander around looking for the horse, shouting it’s name from time to time – hoping it will come clip-clopping around the corner from a nearby saloon bar. Actually, I think cowboys whistle for their horse in movies, don’t they ?

Maybe blogging works like whistling up the wind. Maybe if I whistle, the words will begin to appear once again. I wonder if I have to whistle a particular tune ?

Anyway. Today was Monday. A fairly average Monday, if I’m honest.

I scraped myself out of bed at 7am, and met my eldest daughter in the kitchen – already dressed, preparing to go for a run. She has recently discovered that some of her clothes don’t fit any more – so it having a mad health kick to reverse the situation. Of course she discovered perhaps twenty minutes later that running several miles around town is much harder work and less pleasurable than watching Netflix.

I’ve run for two consecutive days now, and my shins have begun complaining about it. A dull ache has returned that hasn’t been there for over a decade. I’m ignoring it, but I know exactly what it is – I have “hyper-flexibility” (or some other such idiotic condition) – meaning my joints are a bit more bendy than they should be. While this doesn’t mean I’m the next Mr Fantastic, it does mean that too much running causes my legs to hurt. It’s as good an excuse as any to have tomorrow off.

I wasn’t supposed to be working today at all, but ended up helping out with a few bits and pieces. My commute is of course hilariously short – about ten steps from the kitchen to the junk room.

What else has been going on?

Oh yes – our middle daughter – she of Rugby and cooking fame in the hereabouts – has been bought a motorcycle. She starts college in September, a few miles out of town. She’s not old enough to learn to drive yet, but is old enough for a 50cc scooter. I imagine (hope) she will use it to get to rugby training when the weather is nice too. Before being let loose on it, we’re forcing her to do a training course. My other half is already threatening to borrow it to get to work.

I looked at getting a scooter for myself a few years ago, but ultimately decided that cycling to the office is a better idea long-term. If not for cycling (and now running) I would end up putting all sorts of weight on. Talking of cycling – I should get out on the bike in the morning, and go for a ride – stop the cycling muscles from checking out completely.

Finally, I’ve continued messing around with flight simulators in the quieter moments of the last few days. It turns out the flying bit is the easy bit – it was always the easy bit – it’s the “doing what you’re supposed to be doing” that takes some learning – flying departures and approaches “by the book”.

I kind of a have a scary story about the simulator too – that happened last night, and took me a while to calm down from, which is ridiculous, because IT’S A VIDEO GAME!

In order to learn more about the procedural stuff, I have been hopping from airport to airport in the simulator, working my way down the coast of Alaska, Canada, the US, across to the US east coast, and then out to Cuba. Last night I setup a flight plan from Havana to Gustavo Rizo – from one end of Cuba to the other.

To make the flight more interesting, I set the time in the simulator to the dark of night, the weather to overcast, filed the flight plan, tuned the radio to the computer-generated air traffic controllers, and set off.

Everything was going SO well. An hour into the flight I had flown the length of Cuba, and was descending into the pattern at Gustova Rizo – following instructions to descend first to 5000ft, and then on the base leg of the pattern, to 2000ft. I couldn’t see anything outside, so blindly followed instructions.

Suddenly every warning light in the cockpit lit up like a christmas tree, and the flight management computer started shouting “WARNING! PULL UP! WARNING! TOO LOW! WARNING PULL UP!”. Before I had a chance to react, there was a horrible scraping sound, then a few seconds of silence, then a sickening crunch sound, and the cockpit went dark.

Flight over.

I went to bed, wondering what on earth had happened, and needed to calm down. I was genuinely shaken up, even though it was a simulator. This morning, I created a new flight – from the destination airport, and flew the route in reverse – looking at the GPS track to figure out where I had been.

The computer generated air traffic control had generated it’s own “standard” approach pattern, because the database of known “standard approaches” didn’t cover the exact airport I was landing at. Unfortunately the flight simulator wasn’t clever enough to figure out that the approach might lead directly through the 3000ft high hills a few miles south of the runway. I had essentially glanced off the highest peak while descending through the clouds in the dark, and ended up in the forest a few hundred yards further on.

It was galling really – if I had been earlier or later making my turn, I would have missed the hill – but no, I was doing exactly what the simulator air traffic controller was telling me to do, exactly when they told me to do it.

So yes. Anyway. Enough about that – before I bore you to death.

The reason for messing around with the simulator at all is to get good enough at it to do a flight with my Dad. Since retiring, he spends his free time doing virtual flights in a flight simulator with a group of friends around the country. They meet up online a couple of times each week, and “fly” a pre-determined route. One of them even acts as air traffic control – managing the queue for departure and arrival. And that’s the bit I’m still terrible at – saying the right thing to the controllers. Once I can do that, I can do a simulated flight with them, and no doubt be mocked mercilessly for any mistakes I make.

I’ll let you know how it goes, if and when it happens.

Categories
Life

Running and Working

Slowly but surely, I’m losing track of the day of the week. I’m only working three days a week at the moment – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – so my weekends have become longer than my working week. After decades working five days a week, it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

I didn’t help that I went to bed at 2am last night. I somehow scraped myself out of bed this morning, and went for a run – I looked in on our youngest daughter, but all I could get from her was a muffled groan about something or other. I asked for a final time if she was running or not – yes or no – and she shook her head into the pillow.

So we lasted three weeks of “Couch to 5K” runs until I found myself as the “last person standing”. Rather than continue on with the programme alone, I decided to just “go for a run” this morning – to remind my body what a longer run feels like. I ran the same route we have been doing recently, but without any walking at all – and of course the weather cooperated by trying to cook me slowly throughout the run. I kind of surprised myself though – and survived, even after so little sleep.

The rest of the day has been filled with conference calls, emails, writing documents, and jumping down development rabbit holes. Pretty standard stuff.

I can’t help wondering if our ways of working and living have changed for the better in some ways – for many companies, the only reason they have an office is convention, and lack of trust in their own staff. I think perhaps the last few months have made many realise that their fears were unfounded – and that the internet, and platforms such as Office 365, GSuite, Teams, Zoom, Slack, and so on have made remote working a viable alternative.

I guess I’m lucky because I have no problem working alone – I don’t really rely on anybody else for anything, whereas I know others do. There’s going to be a huge problem bringing new starts up-to-speed, and perhaps recruitment will look much more towards self sufficiency as a desirable trait.

Here’s the thing though – if I’m going to end up sitting in the junk room for months of the year, perhaps it’s time to declutter, and decorate it.

Categories
Life

If Only We Had Some Cookies

My youngest daughter’s school has been taking part in a huge effort to rack up as many kilometres as possible in physical exercise while in lockdown – by either walking, running, or cycling. Each day after our Couch to 5K runs she has been emailing the distance covered to her teachers, who have been compiling the results, and letting everybody know how many kilometres were left to reach the target. Last night the remaining target stood at about 49 kilometres.

This morning I set out on bicycles with Miss 15, with the intention of lopping as many kilometres off the total as possible in one go.

I had agreed to cycle around town with her – perhaps doing 10 kilometres or so. While cycling out towards a nearby town, it occurred to her that we might visit her school. Great idea – except her school is quite some distance away.

“Are you really sure? – it’s a long way.” (this was one of those “are you really sure” conversations, where the parent is actually thinking about themselves, but trying to make it sound like concern for their child)

“Yeah”

And so the epic journey began – cycling across the county to her school – a twenty eight kilometre round trip. I think the biggest shock to me was the amount of traffic on the roads. It would appear that pandemic really doesn’t exist any more for a lot of people. We saw car parks filled to bursting, and queues of people at many of the shops we passed along our way.

I know people joke about Darwin taking care of those that either believe the pandemic is a hoax, or massively over-blown, but trust me – I know several people that have had (still have) the virus, and it’s nothing to joke about.

Perhaps the biggest annoyance is the citizen journalists that are jumping on the anti-establishment band-wagon at the moment to gain traffic, and therefore advertising money. They are cyncically playing to people’s frustrations, peddling fear, uncertainly, doubt, and just about every anti-establishment fiction, or distortion of statistics they can dig up and fashion to fit their agenda. It’s not helping anybody.

Anyway. I bought some coffee earlier. We ran out. I’m thinking about installing a panic button in the kitchen – one of those Amazon “instant order” buttons – specifically for coffee.

If only we had some cookies.

Categories
Life

Missing Days

I think it’s fair to say I’ve well and truly fallen off the blogging horse. After several years posting almost every day, I’ve dropped back to posting every few days, and it feels strangely fine. Nobody has come after me with a pitchfork (yet).

I’m sitting in the junk room for the first time in three days. It’s just getting dark outside, and I’m wondering what I will fill the next four days with – I’m not due back in the office until Tuesday next week.

I’m still running with my youngest daughter every other morning – working our way through the “Couch to 5K” programme. She has unwittingly become something of a superstar at school – they are taking part in a challenge where all pupils are asked to walk, run or cycle, and to submit their miles towards an overall total. We are heading out on bicycles in the morning to finish the challenge in style – it finishes at noon – so will hopefully add quite a few kilometres to the final total.

It will surprise nobody to discover that I still haven’t read any of the colossal mountain of unread books that I listed at the start of the coronavirus lock-down. Evenings have been spent watching movies, playing board games, meddling with computers, or running quizzes on Zoom. Days off have been spent fighting with our jungle of a garden.

I am starting to wonder how difficult it will be to resume normal life. For years our live has run on rails – working all week, doing chores throughout most evenings, then running ragged most weekends taking the children to sporting fixtures, washing kit, buying groceries, and so on. I’m not entirely sure how we did it, because even with days to burn, we’re still somehow managing to fill them.

Anyway. It’s getting late. Perhaps a glass of wine, and then bed.

p.s. I’ve been listening to a lot of Katherine Jenkins recently. I’m not entirely sure why. I didn’t used to like her voice, but it’s grown on me.