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Life

Surviving the Day

I started the day with an empty page in my bullet journal, and filled it with tasks as the day went on – the kinds of things you would expect after being out of the loop for a couple of weeks – timesheets to fill out, documents to read, emails to reply to, calls to make.

I admitted to somebody towards the end of the day that I really hadn’t been looking forward to returning, and couldn’t really explain why. I suppose I had grown used to the slower pace of life – it turns out sitting on your arse all day and getting nothing much done is strangely addictive.

I talked to my other half this evening about feeling trapped – stuck in a job that I don’t always like as much as I once did, but having no exit route. I pay the majority of the bills. I keep a roof over our head. I can’t take chances.

Anyway.

I’ve already promised myself to go for a run before work in the morning. Another step back towards normality. I’ll have to get back on the bike again soon too – perhaps alternate running and cycling each day.

I survived the day. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I got over myself. Go me. I’m now sitting in the dark of the study, wondering about heading to bed soon, listening to Cutting Crew on Spotify. Every time I hear it now, I think of the scene in LEGO Batman when Bruce Wayne meets Barbara Gordon for the first time.

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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.

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Life

Ray and Marijne

I meant to write a blog post yesterday, but somehow the day got away from me. The days have been doing that a lot recently. I started writing, but got no further than the first paragraph.

I ran yesterday morning – another five kilometres around town. There is no record of it happening this time though, because I bought a little MP3 player to use while running instead of carrying my mobile phone. I had been recording runs on “Strava” (a free running app), but realised I was beginning to think too much about how far, and how fast I have been running. I’m not training to win anything – I’m just trying to keep fit.

I filled the MP3 player with a running compilation album, and immediately regretted it. I need to fill it with all my favourite, most cheesy songs. Songs that take my mind off running instead of “how long is left of this horrific rubbish?”. I’m thinking a huge collection of 70s and 80s tracks from the likes of Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Go West, Ultravox, Fleetwood Mac, and whoever else springs to mind.

While writing this, I have some music on in the background – “Rush Hour” just started playing by Jane Weildlin – apparently she was a guitarist with the Go Gos (the band that Belinda Carlisle started out with). There’s something about music from that era. I’m not sure if it’s just because I was an impressionable teen back then, and the music is burned into my subconscious. I have no doubt every generation thinks their music is the best for the same reasons.

I can still remember MTV banning rap – this was of course back when MTV was ubiquitous across satellite and cable television networks, and played music videos all day instead of a non-stop stream of reality shows. My late teens and early twenties were spent listening to and watching MTV Europe – with Ray Cokes and Marijne van der Vlugt introducing the various videos. Oh my word how I laughed at Ray, and adored Marijne.

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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.

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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.

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Life

Not Much of Anything

You find me sitting in the dark of the junk room, trying to switch off at the end of the day. I’m listening to a Carly Simon album, and typing into a minimalist online editor. I sometimes find it difficult to switch off – it’s difficult to stop thinking.

It doesn’t help that with a few days of work left until my vacation, I’m buried in thousands of lines of source code for a new project at work. I need to get it to a “good place” before downing tools on Friday – and I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to happen at the moment.

Of course I’m not really going on a vacation – I’m not going anywhere – it’s more a “staycation”. I’ll promise to read books, watch movies, and lots of other things – and I’ll do none of it. I will go running though, and I will go for long walks. Long walks help with the thoughts.

I must remember to take a notebook on the long walks. I often think of things to write about while out on my own, but almost always misplace the idea before reaching a keyboard.

I often solve computer programming problems while in the bathroom. How does that even work ?

In other news, I made it out for another run this morning. I went on my own, and just ran around town – a couple of miles. I’m still worried about the broken toe and don’t want to push it too much. I tell myself that, but in reality I’ve lost quite a bit of fitness while sitting on my arse for the last month. To be honest I’m stunned I can still run any sort of distance.

Anyway.

It’s getting late. Time to go brush my teeth, and sit in bed scrolling rubbish on a tablet instead of reading the book I purposely took upstairs to read.

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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.

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Life

Out of the Loop

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, forcing myself to empty my head into the keyboard. The broken toe is slowly healing – doing as little as possible throughout the last week has helped a lot. Fingers crossed, I’ll be back running again by mid August.

It’s incredibly frustrating – my fitness was at about the 5K mark when the accident happened. I imagine it will take a few weeks to get any sort of stamina back after doing nothing for so long. I have started to wonder about doing some upper body workouts in the meantime. It’s all about actually *doing* it though, isn’t it.

Did I write about losing weight? Throughout the lockdown I have cut out snacks and alcohol. To begin with it was to support my eldest daughter who is trying to lose weight, but then the cat ended up in hospital, and now we don’t have enough money for snacks or alcohol – so that kind of solved itself. In the space of a month, I have lost a stone (14 pounds). If I carry on at the current trajectory, by the time I start running again, I’ll be about the same weight I was 20 years ago.

Anyway. I titled this post “Out of the Loop”, because it describes the way I feel at the moment pretty accurately. It feels like I’m slowly falling away from everything I have clung on to for the last however many years. Last week I removed the vast majority of those I had connected with through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook over the years. I guess the noise just got too much.

I really don’t like the polarisation that’s going on at the moment. Too many people seem to be standing on soapboxes and declaring that if you’re not with them, you’re against them. The easiest way to deal with it is of course to silence it – which you can do with the click of a mouse – and I have.

My email in-box has never been so quiet. I like it.

This evening I’m hoping to sit down with my family and watch the Eurovision movie on Netflix. I watched a clip from it earlier, and became unexpectedly emotional. Oh – completely forgot – I watched a wonderful movie earlier in the week, starring Morgan Freeman as a retired writer living for the summer in a friend’s house, and begrudgingly befriending the family next door. I love quiet movies about ordinary people. It’s called “Once More” – look it up.

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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.