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.