Nov 28

I met Ben today

Sitting on the bus, a man is helped on. He says he can’t see, although he does not seem to have too much trouble moving around or slapping his Oyster card down. He says he’s disabled, cheerfully, as that’s the armour against the world. He sits down next to me and just starts to talk. the initial reaction is typical London, ignore him. But you can’t. There’s a stream of talk just flowing out, asking me not to be scared. That he’s disabled. That he had a parachute accident and fell, broke everything and was in hospital for 5 years, 3 of them in a coma. Again, a request not to be scared and reassurance that he was not trying to chat me up. At this point you can’t help to engage in the chat.

He’d been a stuntman, he’d worked on Gladiator and Die Another Day. Apparently Pierce Brosnan was very nice and Russell Crowe not so much. He used to instruct in 10 sports. Now he’s disabled. And i shouldn’t be scared. We chatted about how much he loves horses.

He leaves, heading back out into the streets to try and get to his destination. He leaves me with the impression of a very nice man with a scrambled brain, who has stories to tell and wants to share his life with people, a man with a positive outlook despite knowing he’s different. He also leaves me with just a hint of disbelief, was this true? Or was it a story that has been created to make life fun?

A search later on a few facts and up pops this piece from The Guardian asking If He was Happy. Even more relevant was this piece, I’m not Angry , a story of another encounter with Ben that has turned into a collection of stories of the people he has met and how he has touched them. How he has made an impression on everyone he meets by living his life to the full.

Thank you Ben. It was wonderful to meet you today.

Nov 26

The Churches of Sir Christopher Wren

Yesterday, I used up one of my remaining holiday days to play tourist in London. Usually, holidays are used for holidays, somewhere else, but occasionally it’s nice to use one to explore my home town. The plan was made to tour the churches of Sir Christopher Wren. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, he rebuilt 51 of them. Not all of them survive though. Some were pulled down deliberately, other’s were hit by the firebombing in the Blitz and were completely destroyed or ended up being restored. In some cases, only a tower or an outline survives. Yesterday, I visited 27 of them. Some were towers only, others were closed, others still welcome visitors. The main was I didn’t visit was St Paul’s Cathedral, that can wait for another day!

Almost all of them are in the City and it’s perfectly possible to walk your way around them. None of them are huge, so don’t take that much time, so if you have a day spare, it’s well worth taking the effort to do a grand tour.

St Andrew-By-theWardrobe. This seems to be a typical Wren church. A blocky oblong, tall arched windows and the alter background that is common, with Lord’s Prayer, the Credo and the Ten Commandments on it. There are balconies, that were pretty common as well.

Wren's Churches

St Bride’s was one of the more well used churches, the church of Fleet St, with many dedications to journalists and publishers and writers. it also has a dedicated altar set up for journalists killed in action.

Wren's Churches

St Andrew’s Holburn had a modern cross and icons.

Wren's Churches

St Vedast shows the other common characteristic of the churches, the organ over the door.

Wren's Churches

Bow Church, the one whose bells are the centre of Cockney world, was one of the more ornate ones, with a modern rood screen, bright ceilings and gold adornments. The stained glass, found here and in a few others, would not have been part of Wren’s design, as that was definitely Papist and Wren built in the Protestant tradition.

Wren's Churches

Saying that, he may not have included stained glass, but he was not adverse to prettiness. St Mary Aldermary had one of the most ornate ceilings.

Wren's Churches

St Stephen Walbrook is regarding as one of Wren’s masterpieces and you can see him playing with host first dome.

Wren's Churches

I’ve got a few more to go through, including St Paul’s, but that will be another day.

Nov 26

2013 – Week 47

Winter is definitely here! it’s getting a bit cold out there. Not sure of it’s the cold but it was a very quiet week.

Reading

Not that musch this week.

Doing

The week was very, very quite! The only things of note were watching the Doctor Who 50th anniversary (which I loved) and attending the Brazil BadgerBash, a gathering of F1 fans, to watch the last race of the season. A very good afternoon/evening catching up with Twitter friends.

Training

  • 3.3m at 10:36min/m. Steady lunchtime loop.
  • 4 x 1k intervals, at 8:33 min/mile pace. Did this on the treadmill, probably the best place for doing these kind of intervals
  • 8.23m at 11:06min/mile. Run from Wandsworth town
  • 14.1m at 11:06 min/mile. Got the train/tube to London Bridge, then ran back. A good idea apart from the bit around the Christmas market, which was basically gridlocked!

I’m now taking a couple of days. I’ve picked up a knee injury I think that needs to gets rested!

Nov 24

My Media Consumption

I opened up iTunes this week, sometimes that does not happen too often. There was my full list of all the songs I had bought this year. A grand total of THREE. That’s it, just the 3 songs. When I mentioned this to colleagues, it seems that I’m not alone in my minimal of songs, with some saying they can’t remember the last time they bought something. But there are different reasons for this. For them, it’s because they pay a subscription to services to Spotify and that delivers all their needs. for me, I just don’t do that much music, I don’t have a streaming service and if I need to listen to something, then that’s what the radio is for.

Having looked at iTunes, what other media have I consumed this year. I’ve bought about 6 DVDs, 2 of them the Olympic coverage as a souvenir record, the rest films I’ve missed in the cinema years ago that were on sale. As with music, I don’t have an on-demand subscription for a service such as Netflix. In fact, I haven’t watched anything on demand at all, even the ‘free’ service offered by Sky. I have done catchup TV though, through iPlayer if I have occasionally missed recording something. I do watch online TV, but primarily at work, where it replaces the radio as a background distraction when I’m concentrating on writing documents. Home under the Hammer is definitely a favourite for this!

On the games side, I’ve probably got about a 10 or so games for the phone, usually cheap or free causal games, but most don’t last long for playing. I’ve bought one videogame this year and I’m still working my way through it. I’m slow at games, not very good, so the outlay of £40 or so usually has a good ROI given how long it takes me.

The biggest media consumption by far though for me is books. I’ve bought – and read – 114 books through Amazon this year, most of them on the Kindle. There’s about another 20 or so that I have got in physical form, my regular authors who I usually buy in hardback. That’s where my attention goes to, the books rather than any other way of taking in stories. That’s a lot of books – the major benefit of the Kindle for me is that I now longer have to find the space for the books!

Looking at my gadget consumption, I’m definitely a lot less likely to buy the latest version than 10 or so years ago. I’m running a 2 year old phone that I’ve got no desire to upgrade as it works fine. I upgraded my laptop last year and I’ll run it until it breaks (as I did with the previous one). I don’t own a tablet as I can’t see a usecase for me that justifies the expenditure. And I won’t be upgrading to one of the new games consoles for the same reason, the justifying usecase is not there and the 4 games consoles I own work fine! The only gadgets I have bought this year are my Fitbit and a Garmin watch, both to help drive fitness and life change.

I used to buy a lot more. A lot more games, videos, music, gadgets. The book consumption is about the same, if possibly even higher as it’s easier to by on Kindle. The time is being taken up by work, going places and the internet, when I’m not reading. How about you?

Nov 18

2013 – Week 46

Reading

Doing

  • It was a fairly quiet week. Had a small birthday celebration with a friend, where much wine was consumed and the world put to rights!
  • Went along to a book launch, for Adrian Hon and A History of the Future in 100 Objects. The book is great, inspired byt the BBC/British Museum series of a History of the World in 100 Objects. What could be the defining objects in the future?
    Future in 100 Objects
  • Watched the Scullers Head. A lovely day for it, blue skies and little wind.
    Scullers Head 2013

Training

  • 4.85m at 10:40min/mile. Steady lunch time job where dodging the tourists is still an essential technique
  • Used treadmill for intervals. 1.75m @ 8:49m 1m @8.34
  • A run to work, with 7.19m at 10:47min/mile
  • A steady recovery run at 3m at 12:02 min/mile
  • The Richmond Old Deer Park 10k race. Ran to a plan, which was to stay under 9:10 miles, pushed on in the last half to get a new PB by 3 mins with 56:26 min/mile. Then ran the 4miles home very slowly ;-)
    Old Deer Park 10k. Waiting
  • Predicted Marathon Time. The 10k race gives me a predicted time of 4:24:46, which is 7mins faster than previously.
Nov 11

2013 – Week 45

Reading

  • The Ofsted Report on Hogwarts. This is from earlier in the year and is a lot of fun. What would the regulatory bodies make of a school of Wizardry, especially one with such a high accident rate!
  • Up in Arms (Tufts) A look back at the hstory of the US and how the different areas of settlement led to different attitudes to gun laws. The US is divided into different ‘nations’ based on their pattern of immigration
  • The Innovation of Loneliness. This looks like it is a graduate project and nothing in it appears to be original (I wish sources had been referenced) but it is a video (the equivalent of an infographic) and pulls together nicely some of the ideas around life online.
  • Out of the picture (Verge). Why even great products, such as Everpix, go out of business if they can’t gain traction and users. (via Steve Bridger)
  • Customers in Control. An Australian look at the future of retail and how experiences (rather just price) will keep us coming back. This counts for both in-store and for online, reflecting the changing social desire to get something more than just a bargain. (Via Delia Timms)
  • A farewell to Lou Reed by Laurie Anderson (Rolling Stone). short story of love, life and death. (via Matthew Gidley)

Doing

  • The London Bloggers’ Meetup was held at Google, where first we listened to Mitch Joel talk about his new book Ctrl-Alt-Delete and then we had a quick panel discussing Google enterprise and blogger products.
  • Watched some fireworks at Chiswick Business Park on the 5th. A long standing local event, there were probably a few thousand people in the park, all crowded together to watch about 15mins worth of fireworks. (there should be a video below, if not it’s on my Flickr)
  • A late planned trip to the O2 arena to watch the ATP tennis. it was a trip with a client and I was a replacement for an ill colleague. In doing so, I missed a party at work that involved a lot of karaoke and a lot of drinking ;-)
    Untitled
  • Went to see Thor at the cinema. Great Saturday afternoon movie, lots of fun.

Training

  • 5.1m at 10:39min/mile
  • 7m at average 10:24min/mile. This was a build run, with each mile supposed to be faster than the next. managed that, with the last one at 8:20. That’s the fastest mile I’ve done!
  • Park Run, at a steady 8:50min.mile
  • 12m steady. Decided to keep it interesting I’d get the train to Waterloo and run back home along the river
Nov 06

2013 – Week 44

Week 44, the last week of October as the year slowly slips away

Reading

Doing

  • Friends and I had one of our irregular Chinese Buffet dinners. Best described as cheap and cheerful from a food perspective, you always know what you are getting as the menu does not change. It’s always good to catch up with friends and hear all the gossip
  • Went for a mid-life checkup. Or rather another trip to the doctors to take all the bloods. Just getting the usual things checked through.
  • Took a trip up to Milton Keynes to see another friend for Saturday lunch and a walk along the canal (a short one!). More gossip, more talk about what’s good and bad at work, more talk about cars.

Training

  • 4.14m (10:24min/m). Run into work, this time from Sloane Square, what you have to do when the trains aren’t running!
  • 4.86 (10:15min/m). Lunchtime run around the bridges.
  • 7.29m (10:37min/mile). This was actually 2 runs. First of all, slow jog to Richmond along the river to get to Park Run. then fast 5k for park Run. the aim of the morning was to see if I could beat my PB after running to the event. And I did! By a whole 12secs, with 27:54. So next time I run it with fresh legs, expect to be faster than that.
  • 9.3m (12:30min/mile). Long slow run to finish the week. Legs were tired after the efforts of the day before.
  • Predicted Marathon Time. I use McMillan Running to predict race times and plan training paces. Using Saturday’s 5k pace, it gives me a predicted time of 4:31:51, which is 12mins faster than my time predicted from my half marathon.
Nov 05

2013 – Week 43

The plan to do weekly blog posts lasted nearly 3 months, so it was a start. Let’s see if I can finish off the end of the year with weekly posts.

Reading

On holiday, I read a lot of books about Japan or by Japanese authors. When looking up what would be good to read, a lot of the recommended books were not available on a Kindle, so did not make it with me, but I plan to find them and buy. So reading there included:

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami By a Japanese author and set in Japan, but not really about Japan. it’s a bit fantasy, a bit ‘novel’ and not really the type of book i would normally read. But strangely satisfying in its weirdness.
  • Lost Japan by Alex Kerr (Lonely Planet). A collection of essays about Japanese life and culture over the last 30 years from the perspective of an American. it’s more a yearning for what has been lost rather than what is there now
  • Shogun, James Clavell. I’ve never read this, but have a vague recollection of watching it on TV. Really food story telling about early 17th century Japan.

Moving away from books, articles I have been catching up on include:

Doing

  • Attended Playful 2013. After last years blogposts, I got asked back to do some liveblogging again for this conference. Post of the posts are already live – there’s a couple more to add though.
  • Saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic. With James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave. I’ve never seen (or read) this play before so, with nothing to compare against, the casting of an older Benedict and Beatrice was fine with me. Having seen Othello earlier in the year though, it did bring home that women seem to be untrusted when it comes to love and fidelity in these Shakespeare plays.
  • Had a visit from the parents. They brought along some GORGEOUS planting pots to keep my growbag garden out of growbags and a lot more tidy!
    Untitled
  • Saw part of Rhizome’s Seven on Seven London event, after seeing that Naveen, someone I knew from New York would be talking
  • Caught up with Robert Scoble, an old friend from the US, who was over here publicizing his new book, the Age of Context.

Training

I’m adding another category – as I’ve managed to get into the London Marathon, then it think it would be useful to keep track of my activities! This was the first week of my marathon training plan!

  • 3.68miles (10:36min/m)lunchtime jog. First real outing since the half marathon, also first one at lunchtime. Think I’m going to be doing more of these in the winter!
  • 5.17m (11:40min/m) Run into work
  • 3.02m (11:32mim/m) Evening jog, nice and steady
  • 6.58m (10:39min/m) Weekend long run