Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Chilling out isn't great.

It's been so warm over the last couple of weeks that I've been running in shorts and tee shirt, even though we'd had frosty starts to the day. Sunday changed that with some cooler weather and hail, but yesterday didn't seem too bad in the day.

Went for a local 8.5miler last night wearing leggings and my long-sleeved winter top, then got rained on and chilled about half way round. The legs got grumpy, knees angry and I ended up walking down the hills to try to prevent damage. Cue hurty legs in bed, though I did manage to sleep OK in the end.

I hope this run will be worth it.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Why am I not surprised.

The web is more than doomed.

Wonder how big a blogger page is?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Seems I made it home just before the hail hit.

I'd planned a 10-11 miler for this afternoon, but having led worship this morning, then had my mother back to dinner while Ben's here on his one-night stop-over & driven back to Bicester again, I just didn't have the energy for more than 5K. It started raining as I reached North Aston and was moderate most of the way back. About 10min after arriving I heard the hail rattling on the windows.

In less than 2 hours Ben will be in Oxford getting on the bus taking him to Gatwick Airport tonight for a 7am flight to Turkey on Monday. It's been good to see him - I'm going to miss him when he's gone again, even though I love when it's the two of us being together.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mobile blogger is a bit broken

I have a post listed as 'publishing' that is neither published, nor can be edited in any way. Meh, as Mrs. Croes used to say.

So Tuesday is sunny

And to my considerable surprise I don't ache (much) this morning. The head is still a little fuzzy and has the usual occasional pain, but I'm pleasantly surprised at how much better the bod feels than it did yesterday. If this carries on then I'll probably run 10k home tonight.

To be honest I'm not sure this exercise thing is all that great. It wants to become all-consuming, which isn't helpful if you just want to get on with life and the stuff you're called to do. We'll just have to make sure it's kept in proportion - and I'm sure the time to back off will come soon enough too.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

So today I ran.

This afternoon I went for a mid-afternoon run, managing 16.5K/10.4miles in a little under 1hr 40min.

TBH it didn't feel particularly good, not least because I was deliberately holding back a little, knowing I planned to extend the distance further than usual, and I stopped twice to stretch after 7 and 9 miles. The half marathon is just a few weeks away, and I need to make good on my (assumed now OK) knee to increase distance.

The running has changed my physiology. Arms that once seemed muscular now look lean and skinny, to the point where, when pulling socks on this evening, they didn't look like they belonged to me any more. Legs aren't so different really, but I'm carrying less fat on my torso although I can 'pinch an inch' as the phrase once had it. Breathing is certainly better than it has been in a long while, and I managed the first 4-5 miles with one breath cycle per 4 footfalls when on the flat or running up modest inclines: the one disadvantage being that I run more slowly like this, though still faster than 10K/hr. Later I upped the breathing rate to one cycle per 3 footfalls, and that enabled me to keep the pace up despite tiredness.

The one miserable bit was finding that I just couldn't run down the hill into the village to finish the run. It's a relatively steep slope, and the feelings of displeasure from knees and calf muscles were too strong and clear to ignore just for a training run. The course I'll be running looks pleasantly flat, so there'll be no popping knees on that.

My legs ache now, which is no surprise, but hopefully they'll settle down tonight and be OK for work tomorrow. By Tuesday evening perhaps enough recovery will have happened for a 10K home from work, or maybe a 5K if things are still sore.

The sunlight looks lovely out there this evening, but I'm just a bit too tired for a photographic expedition tonight.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

What's that white stuff, falling past the windows?

I knew the temperature was due to drop a little, but wasn't expecting sleet and large clumps of snow this morning. Glad I plan to run tomorrow and not today, but it's scuppered cutting the grass and clearing the shed that I HAD planned.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Change is difficult

Of course we all know that, but change when accompanied by fanfares and a large finger pointing from the sky with the "it's you" voice is easier than feeling one could probbly get involved with something, but could also stay where things are comfortable and one need do no more than just turn up.

We had a bathtime conversation this morning, wondering if it doesn't really matter which path we go down and if either are just as acceptable, both having advantages and disadvantages, both causing possible hassle for others too. Or maybe this is a chance to see where our heart motivations are, without the fanfares and guidance, to see if we're really the pioneery people we've talked about being in the past, or just consumers who are happy to get a little fatter every week? I see a few good friends who struggle with the "is this it/why am I doing little with my life?" and understand their dissatisfaction.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

I have no clue what you're talking about.

I just had an email from lastminute.com with the strapline 'Rock and roll with the toxic avenger'. I'm sorry, but although I recognise every word in that sentence, you're clearly talking nonsense.

In a workplace populated by an array of different nationalities, someone put up a printed page in a public place comparing what the British say, what they meant and what a non-Brit might think they meant, and example of which may be found here.

The poster, a friend in the workplace who has travelled widely, worked abroad and is of european extraction made the comment that this was unique to the British. I had to point out that in Austria and Germany, if a waiter asks if you would like to order and you reply 'thank you' then they will walk away because that is assumed to mean NO thank you, rather than an affirmative. People are just odd, really.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I was going to say that I'd like to know.....

why OSX seems to sod-up nearly every USB memory stick that gets used with it. Except that I don't really care - I just wish it wouldn't happen.

Loaned one of my memory sticks to a Mac user, who then experienced ejection problems (which they also experience with a variety of other memory sticks, just like I did when I used a Mac regularly) and now it needs repair when it's used on a machine running a non-Apple OS.

Grump at the poxy Cupertino implementation of USB.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

We've been a 2-mini family for more than a week now.

I've not really talked about Chris's car much so far, not least because although I have already driven it a few hundred miles, it was all on the day we collected it, and we drove from Slough near London to Worcester via Birmingham for a funeral, and was a little distracted.

Minis are funny things, because they all look 'the same' and they all share driving characteristics (firm, direct ride, direct steering, feel like you're going faster than you really are) but despite that they aren't all the same. This particular convertible is a second generation version, while the countryman is much closer to the 3rd generation launched last year (being a completely new design for 2011) in terms of interior and driver information despite this one being a year younger than mine. With the countryman, Mini did really well creating a fairly tall version of the small car that still retained handling characteristics (which were a big part of the reason I bought it) but it's been fascinating driving the original concept vehicle.

So what's it like to drive?

Every car is a compromise. When I started to answer my question the first words I wrote were small, fun, easy, but that's a very incomplete picture, and sometimes not even true. It IS those things, but we picked the 'S' version - presumably intended to imply sport - which includes bigger wheels and low profile tyres, 2L Diesel engine, better headlights and some pretty trim that makes no practical difference, and those have affected driving characteristics quite a bit.

So the wheel & tyre combination makes a firm ride much more sensitive to a bad road surface, and compared to the softly sprung beetle, the poorly repaired country lanes round here make for a bumpy ride at times. When we test drove various cars, the standard 16" wheel and taller tyre combination made for a surprisingly compliant ride. Chris's answer about how she liked it after her first drive around here were "it's bumpy". To me, this is just about a worthwhile trade off, with the improvement in handling and feedback making the car feel confident and capable of handling much more than a couple in their 50s are likely to throw at it most of the time. All the cliches apply: goes round corners on rails, go-kart handling etc, but it also makes for a car that's entirely within it's limits at the motorway speed limit, and not feeling at all marginal like some I've driven over the years.

The bigger engine is nice too, because it makes for relatively effortless power in a small, slippery bodyshell, and economy is as good or better than my Countryman despite that having a smaller engine. Last weekend I followed a Honda Civic Type R briefly, and although that car would pull away from the mini (as it should) the difference wasn't enormous, and it was speed limits that made me let him go, more than the performance difference. It's also nice to have a car that's completely unfussy about power delivery, and provided it's doing more than tickover engine speeds, it just gets on with the job of going faster when you ask it to. Of course the downside of this in combination with the good handling is that one could easily end up travelling at speed limit + 50% without even being aware of how fast you were going from the lack of effort to get to and drive at that speed. Brakes seem better than my car (though the discs appear the same size) so it looks like they've got that sorted too.

And so to lights.

The S models come with a xenon HID headlight system instead of the conventional halogen bulbs fitted to every other car we've owned. I've long had mixed feelings about conventional headlights: they were good in the Peugeot 406 we had and OK in the 307, but in the beetle they were very weak: poorly focussed and lacking brightness. Chris had an occasion recently where she was badly dazzled by oncoming traffic, and it caused her to lose her sense of where the road was. On Wednesday last week I followed her back from Bicester after dark, and not once on the country lanes did she use main beam, not because she forgot, but because it wasn't needed. This is a really good upgrade.

I mentioned small. Advice I'd read online suggested that if you wanted to take passengers in the back seats then it would be best if they didn't have legs. There is a little less space behind the front seats - maybe an inch or so - than the beetle had, and few inches less than the new beetle (which is a bigger car generally) but I've had several 20-30min sessions in both this and the beetle, and it's no worse. Getting out of the back feels just a little harder, but that's probably because the car is also lower, by at least a couple of inches. It's curious how that plays out, because with the top down, the mini is almost EXACTLY the same height to the top of the doors as the beetle was, but apparently with seats lower in the cockpit. The plus side is that with the roof off there is far less buffeting for the driver, to the point that we've not bothered to buy a wind deflector - an absolute essential for top-down driving with the beetle at speed. Inside, the roof doesn't feel low at all (Randall - you might feel different ;-) but one is aware of other vehicles feeling taller than usual.

In other respects the car isn't functionally much smaller than the beetle. The boot has a similarly impractical size opening, and the space available is useful but a little lower than before. The cabin has storage space arranged differently, but is no less practical again - swings and roundabouts, as the phrase goes - although it is narrower than the beetle too.

So overall I think it was a good purchase, all compromises and trade-offs considered. Hopefully it will serve well for another 8 or so years like the beetle did.

p.s. There's a 'sport' button slightly to the left of the gearshift. I have pressed it once, briefly, then reset it. My understanding is that it makes the engine more responsive and the steering heavier, but that was still on day 1, and I was working my way back from Worcester on country roads and didn't really feel much like playing then. I may report more later.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Ever watch a vid that made you want to pick up a guitar and play?

These 2 guys, talking about Dumbles, then playing with some pedals. I'd love to be doing some of that at church in the morning.

Time to go find the Les Paul.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Aparently tonight I managed another PB.

6.78 miles in 1 hour, while running 'round the block' for a modest 8 miler. Just need to manage an additional 5.1 miles to complete a half marathon.

Hopefully things will slow down a little now.

It's been (or felt) crazy busy round here the last couple of weeks, sourcing a replacement car for Chris, travelling to London to pick up a bike for Ben to use, collecting Chris's car, then driving from Slough to Worcester for a funeral, then driving home again, then dropping Ben off for his return to France.

Monday this week we re-interviewed for another assistant for me. 6 individuals, 1 hour apart, no lunch break, then review after the last one has left. I could feel the dripping on my shoulders as my brain oozed from my ears.

I could go on.

3 separate social occasions involving food over the weekend, which again was great, but tiring. I've also been trying to find gaps of a couple of hours in which to run & maintain fitness, and that's happened, but it's been tricky. 2 weeks ago the little (size, not attitude) lass doing physio found a painful spot and then repeatedly worked it - cue knee aching for next 3 days and no running happening. :p

Mostly it's self-inflicted - can't blame anyone else really. :-)  I've also hurt my neck/back, and can't sit upright easily. :-(

Tonight I finally did the April church news sheet, so that's one monkey less. :D

While I'm wittering, social media is an odd thing. LinkedIn makes me want to punch people for all their smug, shiny executiveness. It's poo, really.

Quite enjoyed reading Celsus criticism of Christianity. Considering it was written in AD150ish the criticisms often come across as very modern, aside from his understanding of the Greek gods and demons and a stated desire that all Christians should be put to death. Interesting too is the way his religious leanings are interpreted through his sense of politics, rather than the other way round. No wonder Christians were anathema to him.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Being older isn't all bad.

While there's a side of me that likes to compete, especially with the younger ones, it's really nice to be able to relax with people and just get on with the job at hand. It's also a sign that I have no interest in career progression any longer, and can just be myself, mostly.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Who said mechanical things are logical?

The clutch on Ben's Guzzi wouldn't release: he'd had it partially apart (flywheel and driven plate out - it's a car type design rather than a typical wet multiplate like most bikes) to check everything, but it still didn't work. Enquiring on a forum, they asked if he'd had it completely apart to check it? So this afternoon we stripped it completely - nothing obvious wrong - reassembled it, and now it works fine.

Great advice, but I wish it was logical.

Friday, 25 March 2016

PB for 5K

Managed a personal best for 5K running tonight despite a twingy knee. Wonder if I'll manage a run on Sunday?

BTW for those who take pictures and process them, Google have released the Nik software collection (a set of plugins designed to work with other software like Lightroom) free of charge to download. If you don't have anything like them then they are very good value for the cost of entry. ;-)  I've installed the suite, and now wonder whether it was a waste of time, since I primarily use On1's Perfect Photo Suite to do many of the same things, although I expect to find the HDR plugin useful.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sylvia rides again

Sylvia being the name of the bike I collected on Tuesday night, Ben has sorted insurance and tax and taken her for a spin. Apparently the foot brake, linked between front and rear discs, works well, which is good because the front brake operated from the handlebars doesn't really work at all. She's not a thing of beauty at 35 years old, but still handsome in a slightly cobbled together kind of way.

Hopefully I'll get a ride in some time this weekend.

On a slightly different topic, my keyboard skills have really gone down the pan over the last few years, yet tonight I'm tapping away freely for the first time in ages, as though I've got something to write, and up until then without needing to make many corrections.  :p

Feeling a bit Ursa major

Apparently I growled when I entered the office today. Not ideal. :-(

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Another of those mornings.....

Where you're in a hurry and leave slightly later than desirable, have to put fuel in the van that was hired the previous night before returning it, bash one's funny bone on the petrol pump, twice, return the van and get it checked in only to discover that you left your own car keys at home, so return home (now late for work) to collect them and the cafetieres that were forgotten in the hurry earlier, and the van will need to be used to drive to the physiotherapy appointment in the afternoon too, so will need more fuel before returning it.

And breathe.

Life will go on. The bike that was collected last night seems OK, and hopefully can be used as transport. Insurance and collection is being sorted for Chris's new car.

Self-inflicted tiredness. :p

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

This is a good time to pray for Europe

That there would be grace, mercy and forgiveness, rather than hate, anger and persecution.


Monday, 21 March 2016

The internet was predicted in 1946.

Well, more or less, anyway. Certainly human behaviour in the face of readily available information was.

A little extra vehicular activity

Sorry to disappoint anyone thinking that we had begun learning how to space-walk.

As of tomorrow night, despite some earlier protestations to the contrary, I shall be the owner of a motorcycle. Wether or not I will be the rider of said bike is another matter entirely, but I've just picked up a high-mileage used Guzzi V50 for Ben to use as an example to work from (hopefully not a donor of parts!) and possibly as transport to ride for work until his own is properly running. However it's also really tempting to acquire a lid, insurance, and give it a spin myself.

We've also probably found the replacement for Chris's beetle, and that may well arrive in a few days too, just in time for the easter weekend.

I'm looking forward to stopping the cash-haemorrhage that we're presently experiencing, even though new toys are fun.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The hunt continues

Car salesmen - why do they use so many inappropriate superlatives to your responses to their questions? I've just spoken to 'Alex' who is probably a nice guy outside his job, but left me feeling like I wanted a quick barf.

Friday, 18 March 2016

If one were a child

Being made to sit in a cool, dark room with a continuous rattling noise might have been a  punishment, but since this is work I consider it pleasant. There are 5 minute gaps between the times I need to take readings, so can perform some of the stretches prescribed for me by the physio.

And write short blogposts.

My right knee (the main complainer) is definitely better to run, but still hurts at other times. A quick check after a couple of minutes stretching suggests things are less crunchy-clicky than sometimes, though I suspect tomorrow morning will tell a different story. Whatever, young Caitlin at Pea Green has done a remarkable job getting me to run faster. Plus over time with more running I've been aware of becoming less flexible and with decreased mobility in joints, and her (occasionally bruising) efforts to push things back in place seems to be beneficial to that too.

Had a good Skype conversation with our friends in Bos-herz last night about the trip for the run, and rather looking forwards to it now.

Note to self - DO NOT assume that posts from the phone look the same when live. :p

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Public transport is a failure

I need to be in Oxford for a lunchtime meeting, then back in the afternoon. Apparently there are only 2 trains out of Lower Heyford this morning, at 9.09 and 9.49.

Guess the car is king.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Off for my second dose of physio today.

Last time I was warned that I might be stiff or sore next day, but she was quite gentle and all was fine. Wonder if that will be different today?

So last night I ran back from Heyford park to home, taking it easyish and into a headwind. It felt comfy (as much as running ever can) and managed a personal best of 25.04 for 5k. Hope that's a sign of good things to come.

Well who would have thought such a slender slip of a girl could put so much pressure on a single muscle. So this week I need to do another 5k without tape on the knees, followed by about 13-16k to check whether the quads are better now.

Mobile computing devices AKA

As phones generate curious behaviour.

For example, the standard 'keyboard' generally works well, yet there are dozens of alternatives that look a little different for which one must pay, in cash and in giving access to personal data. Why would anyone give access to their contacts and personal data, just to use something that does the same thing s with a slightly different look?

That was the first example that sprang to mind, but there's plenty of others.

I really don't get the lemming-like rush for more and more apps that do what is already being done with no more than cosmetics as a USP. Blackberry and Windows phones are shunned because they lack a large app store - weird - even though many of the key apps are available for those devices.

Please explain this to me, if you can.

Monday, 14 March 2016

That's sick - put a donk on it.

Apart from wondering whether this phrase will get more hits, it was something that I heard on BBC radio 4 Saturday morning that partly piqued my interest, partly amused me.

The phrase came from a club music form popular around the northern English industrial cities (Mnchester, Leeds, Bradford etc) called donkhouse, with the synth 'donk' sound - played on the back beat (wooden mallet from a Yamaha keyboard) - used to create some "bangin' tunes" (Hello Kevin and Perry). The theory that the radio program presented was that the donk sounded like weaving and other industrial machines at work, and therefore had cultural relevance.

Probably not to be taken too seriously.

Where should I start, after a week away?

In the last week or so I've watched 3 full-length films (on DVD), had physiotherapy for my knee problems, decided it's time to replace Chris's beetle, played guitar in another church celebration, test driven 2 cars with a sniffly wife and possibly found another useful piece in the puzzle for a company for who I'm doing development work. Oh, I also finished reading Eusebius (finally - now I can concentrate a bit more on What's Wrong With Outreach) and have started reaing a criticism/analysis of Origen's refutation of Celsus' The True Word (more interesting than it sounds).

Time flashes past.

I'm tempted to try to review the films (Edge Of Tomorrow was well made with a good story and pleasing characters, The Lady In The Van was a film much better in retrospect that at the time of viewing, Oblivion suffered the 'Hollywood effect' that replaced humanity with CGI) but I won't right now.

As for the cars, we test drove a used new VW Beetle 1.4TSi (great looks, great engine, good ride and handling, high price) and Mini convertible Cooper D (good looks, good engine, good ride and great handling, lower price). The beetle is a more practical car than most convertibles seem to be, with a large boot, folding seats and OK legroom in the rear (I managed an hour in the back without discomfort). The mini is a little less spacious in the back (good headroom still, 2"-3" less legroom) and all-round smaller & more nimble-feeling in other respects. Doing the 'looking back' test, Chris seemed to prefer the Mini, so that's probably where we'll go for her next car.

I'm still digesting Eusebius, with the final chapter not being like the previous text. It has been a very useful read however, and has really helped me understand why the ancient church was so intensely political and inclined to acquire power (protection from brutal persecution initially, though that became self-fulfilling very quickly). Before I began reading, my original impression had been that the church had gone off the rails once it became a state-sponsored, then state-controlling organisation. From this text, it appears the church had quickly become corrupted and fragmented in a way that looks modern long before that, with major heresies and schisms devloping even before the end of the first century. It's also been useful to see that the 'bible as the word of God' that we now have would not have been recognised at all by second and third century Christians, which I had been aware of, but not considered in this way before.