Jan 19

2014 – Week 3

Reading

Doing

  • Had my first ever full-length sports massage. Ouch! Seriously, I had bruises. But I did notice a difference in the next run, with muscles that often give a twinge working fine. Ideally, you’d get one weekly, but every 3-4 weeks at a minimum. It all depends on finances as they’re not the cheapest!
  • I was on Russia Today, on its programme CrossTalk, directly as a result of my appearance on Al Jazeera. The topic was pretty much the same, social media and journalism. This was not in a dedicated dark studio, but on the corner of the office, so had people working around me. Weirdly, I had a screen backdrop which showed a live view of London – the camera providing the view on the screen was pointing out the window behind the screen!
  • A had a good chat with the people behind Digital Mums. I’m probably going to be doing some mentorship on their pilot project, to train at=home Mums to do community management. I think this is a really good idea!
  • I had brunch with someone I used to work with in JWT New York. He’s just started a new role and is over here for 3 months connecting with new and existing clients. Had a good meal in Chinatown and took him on a whistlestop tour of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the Southbank. We were going to go into Westminster Hall, but apparently at a weekend, you can only get in if you are on a paid tour!
  • Had dinner with a bunch of bloggers. David Weinberger was visiting London and there was a small dinner with some old-school bloggers.

London streets

Training

It was a lighter week in the plan, a recovery week before it all gets hard again. Two light recovery runs and the following main runs.

  • 8 miles with 8 * 100m sprints, speeding up to get the legs moving quicker.
  • 8 miles easy running, done along the river, just about getting the tide time right so I could use the tow path
  • 12 miles easy running, in Richmond Park on a sunny morning. So many runners out in the park, wonder how many of them are doing the London Marathin too?
Jan 17

2014 – Week 2

Reading

  • Things learnt from 5 years on The Story by Matt Locke. A great set of things that he has learnt running his The Story Conference, from the need of side-projects, that you have to do things many times to get things right and that things are valued more when paid for with own money (rather than expensed on employer).
  • Is the sea floor littered with dead sea animals by Deep Sea News. A factual take on the scare stories of Fukishima radiation. It’s not hitting the US!
  • The Most In-demand job skills in 2013 was Social media on Red/Write. yay, that’s good to know. Here’s to it continuing in 2014. Although, reality check, it should social media AND business knowledge, how to actually use it strategically, not just how to use Twitter.

Doing

A pretty quiet week in the main.

  • My project to have a photo for every day in 2014 is progressing well. Here’s the Flickr Set
  • Visited Shoreham-by-Sea to meet up with Adam, chat, and have coffee. A slightly shorter visit than planned as I had to come back up to London at short notice, but it was great to be by the sea!
  • Went along to a friend’s birthday party for a few drinks, a good chat and a fun catchup. Was good to myself my ensuring plenty of water was had along with the wine, so I felt pretty good the following day…unlike some! And I avoided the shots.

Training

A hard week, with a total mileage of 40 miles. Two small recovery runs, plus some hard sessions:

  • 9 miles with 5 at 10k pace
  • 10 miles steady
  • 16 miles with 10 at marathon place. This one I was dreading but it went better than expected.
Jan 05

2014 – Week 1

It’s a New Year! 2014 is here and has done its best to make its mark with the weather.

Reading

  • How to run the perfect marathon by Beer Belly Running. I’m going to be reading a lot more like this as I have no idea what to expect (pain, I know there’ll be pain, but what else? :-) ) It’s 14 weeks today. I have a lot of miles to get through.
  • Facebook reveals mobile growth by country. (TechCrunch) One thing about being a public company is Facebook has to give information to investors that it would not have normally made public. This is interesting reading about how it is spreading, especially with the rise of the messenger plus the deals it is putting in place to make Facebook use ‘free data’ with certain carriers.
  • How the content industry almost killed the Blockbuster and Netflix. (TechCrunch). A look back on the entertainment industry and its continued inability to understand the disruption that keeps hitting it.
  • LOL My Thesis. A tumblr with one line definitions of academics study. A lot of fun reading.
  • Paul Dacre – the man who hates liberal Britain. A New Statesman study of the editor of the Daily Mail

Doing

  • Visited the Bank Of England Museum. A fascinating little place in the City, showing the history of the bank and of money and banking in the UK. Shows how banknotes came to replace money, the rise of the cheque and how, in England, this bank became the only one that could issue money. Well worth a visit – especially to handle the HUGE gold bar they have.
  • Appeared on Al Jazeera TV on Inside Talk, talking about social media, viral videos, fakes and journalism. How should journalists verify video that appears on the web. Making these programme is weird as the main studio is in Doha, so you’re in a dark studio, facing lights, you can’t see the camera so hope you hope you’re looking at the right place and you can’t see the videos they are talking about. This was the first long discussion I have done, it’s normally been small slots in news programmes but this was a 30min show. Enjoyed it (and apparently did OK). Also, more telly makeup so took picture that is becoming my new avatar.
  • Did a London Treasure hunt through In the Hidden City. A brilliant idea that uses text messages to send you clues for places around London. Do it fast, you can get prizes, but the real prize is taking the opportunity to see places about London you may never have been before. This one took us from the National Gallery, through St James, Soho and up to Marylebone.
  • Updated my CV and applied for jobs. Cost cuts are work meant re-structuring and me no longer having a job :-( So after getting through the holidays, I’ve now taken stock and am busy getting my details out there! Anyone need a digital thinker/social media strategist/project manager? You can see what I have done on my About Page/LinkedIn.

Training

The training picks up hard now, with 42 miles in the plan

  • 8mile steady with 10 100m strides. These are fast sprints where you push yourself hard
  • 10miles to and from a New Year’s day parkrun, with the 5k fast in the middle. Well, not that fast. I usually do my parkruns on a flat course, this was in Richmond park and there are hills!
  • 10miles steady. It was a lovely run until 6miles in when the heaven opened, hailstones poured down and there was thunder and lightening. I got very wet and it was horrible for 2 miles. Then there were blue skies!
  • 15 miles steady, again round Richmond Park. No deer seen today

Dec 31

Reviewing 2013

That’s it. The year is done, 2013 is over, 364 and a half days have been experienced. So that means it’s time to look back on my ambitions for 2013 and see if I achieved them! The framework was Change, Connect and Challenge, a way of structuring my thoughts for the year. Practically, I split these into 4 areas – physical, relationships, career, and experiences.

Physical

This was me in November.

This is me on Nov 2011 (I actually can’t find one from 2012)

I said that I was going to change physically, that I was going to get thinner and fitter and healthier. But I’ve said that in previous years too, what made this one different? The external pressures were the same, the internal monologue was the same, but this time, the INFORMATION I had was different and that changed the internal motivation. I could see far more about where I was and where I was going. As predicted, the FITBIT was the trigger. Not just counting inputs, but being able to assess output and then understand the balance between them made the difference in my brain. Every step counted, every piece of food weighed and assessed – and manage the gap.

The second element was finding exercise that was easy to add to my life. And that was not the gym, although I have used that a lot, but it was running. There was a random challenge from Juliet on a night out, about running a half marathon in September stuck on my mind and the following morning, I took a look at the site and entries had literally just opened. So I entered the Run to the Beat half. Which meant I had to train, had to have a programme, had to have more structure than a few gym classes a week. My sister also entered, which meant I now had a remote competitor to challenge on training too.

So I ran. I entered shorter races, I found out about parkrun and along the way, I put my name down for the London Marathon, (as of course, you never get in first time), as that had been a random fantasy every April as I watched people run.

I lost 4 stone (for non-Uk people, that’s 56lbs0. I ran my half marathon, and another 2 weeks later and then I found out that I HAD got into the marathon, so training continues…this journey is only just beginning!

My training miles

running

Relationships

Better, but still work to be done on this. Internet dating was a failure, did not do that at all well. But did better at getting out and seeing people

Career

The plans and development that were being discussed at the beginning of the year never came to fruition, opportunities changed and flexed. I spoke at a couple of conferences, about social media and preserving brand voice, had a number of articles published (through employer PR team) and was on TV a few times, again talking social media. So not as much as I wanted, but still, in the main, a good year. There will be major changes coming up though, but more on that when looking at 2014.

Experiences

The LOOP: I completed the bottom half of this, from Erith to Hatton Cross, but then put it on hold as I could not fit it in with the running training. I plan to complete in 2014.

Christopher Wren Churches: I did almost all of them in one mad day in December.

Japan: the trip to Japan was a major success! The race was brilliant, the country was amazing and I had a brilliant time! Just read the daily blog posts

What else?

  • I went to Barcelona to watch F1 Testing
  • I took trips to see cathedrals to York and Arundel
  • I had a go at learning to surf.
  • I was in the audience for the BAFTA TV awards.
  • I went to conferences: TEDx Houses of Parliament, Over the Air at Bletchley Park and Playful 2013
  • I went to Silverstone for the F1, Goodwood for the cars and Henley for the rowing
  • I ran around the Olympic Park for 5 miles and finished the run in the Olympic stadium
  • I got to drive the Jaguar F-Type for a weekend

All in all, a good year!

Dec 29

2013 – Week 52

Christmas Week, that weird one (which carries on into next week) where life does not follow normal pattern!

Reading

Doing

I spent almost the whole week at the parents doing family things! I was due to travel on the Monday via train, but with the bad weather that was predicted, Dad came to pick me up on the Sunday. Good job too, as many trains were disrupted. So the week was spent catching up with family,, a bit of eating, a bit of drinking and a lovely walk in the Clent Hills on Boxing day. I also got my Dad set up on Flickr so he can put his many years of holiday photos on there instead of them being stuck across a couple of machines.

Training

A combination of injury recovery and being at parents meant training was a little mixed this week.

  • Gym session with 15miles on bike, some weights then a a short 2.5mile run back home (in the pouring rain!)
  • 5.6 miles steady run around Himley Park/Baggeridge Woods on Christmas Day. It was a gorgeous bright morning and the park was filled with dog walkers
  • Park run with my sister Sarah (who’s training for a half marathon), plus my other sister’s husband Paul. It was the first park run for both. I ran round with Paul, who has not run for ages and definitely not since his accident – but running with one arm was manageable, he just needs better trainers!
  • 15miles steady around Richmond Park. I started off with the local running club group but they were going far too fast for my plan for the day, so I dropped back and completed it in just over 2.5 hours.

Dec 23

2013 – Week 51

The year is nearly done. Thoughts turn to plans for 2014, personal, professional, what ambitions will I set myself for the year?

Reading

Doing

The week before Christmas seemed to mainly involve having Christmas dinner with people! Or drinks. In total, had 3 dinners this week with various groups of friends, at a restaurant, a pub and a dinner party at home. Setting myself up well for the holidays – where I need to get out and do some more things!

Training

Not so good, another week with an injury, so planning on spending the next week focusing on stretching and strengthening before getting back out there.

Dec 16

2013 – Week 50

An interesting week, with potential for huge changes. But more on that as they crystalise!

Reading

  • Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregellis. An interesting Alt-history story, the first in a trilogy. What happens if the Germans had harnessed mental powers in WW2 and what would be the UK response.
  • The Brilliant Hack that brought Foursquare back from the dead on Wired. Story around the latest changes to Foursquare. I’ve been a consistent user of the app for years but recently it lost its way. When looking for recs, want to know what’s available in the street I’m standing in, not something a few miles away. The latest version has brought that back, so I’m happy about that. I’m also going to be more of a old fashioned user, as I like it to track my visits. If you do that, you can great maps like this! (So I rarely go NW or SE in London…)

    Foursquare Checkins - London - first half of 2012

  • Train times vs House Prices. by Anna Powell-Smith. Turning data into information. Where is the best place to buy to minimise commute and maximise value?
  • Concussions and Rugby in The Guardian. A story of rugby, a schoolboy and Second Impact Syndrome

Doing

  • Went for cocktails with friends at Purl. Lovely place!
  • Went to the launch party for The Walk, the new app from my friends at Six to Start. It’s had some great coverage!
  • Drinks with an ex-colleague who has just started a role at the National Gallery. Sounds really exciting!!!
  • Dinner and drinks with friends over from San Francisco. Had a brilliant meal at Hakkasan, had my first glass of Chateau Margaux (mmmm!) and then introduced them to a London pub the week before holidays. A trip to De Hems was spent watching people in Christmas jumpers try and hook up whislt singing along to 80’s songs mixed with Christmas songs. Can you believe they’d never heard of a Fairytale of New York?!

    Chateau Margaux

Training

It was my first official week of the marathon training, as I start the 18 week training plan. It kicks off with 8 miles with 4miles at half-marathon pace, then the rest of the week as steady runs. The knee brace is working well, I’m nursing a shin injury so being a little careful, but things going well.

Dec 08

2013 – Week 49

Reading

  • Odon Childbirth device: Car mechanic uncorks a revolution. A feature about Jorge Odon, a car mechanic from Argentine, who has invented a new device to help with childbirth.
  • What we can learn from fake tears on social media (The Kernal). Why people push their grief onto social media when a celebrity dies. (something you would rarely see me doing, I never know the person!)
  • Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett. I didn’t want to start, as it could be the last book from Pratchett. He’s an author I’ve bought all the stories,the first when he was signing books in Blackwells when I was at college. At that point, there was no queue at all, something that would never happen these days.

Doing

  • A little work dinner for a pitch team, just some wine and Italian. It was the first time I’d been to Vapiano’s, where you queue up to order your pasta or pizza. Decided I don’t like the system. Ordering at a counter and waiting for them to bring it is one thing (like GBK, or Nando’s), but don’t like the having to wait around for the order to be cooked!
  • An evening out at Fashion Fringe. The 10th year of this event had a little celebration, announcing that it was also the last year. Not my usual event, but it was a lot of fun, with wine and sushi and loads of interesting dresses to take a look at. There were apparently celebrities there, but my usual lack of recognition was there and failed to see anyone I could put a name too!
    FashionFringe London
  • It was time for the office Christmas party on Wednesday. A well put together evening at UFF Tea Merchants, where it’s all styled like the 30s. We had a band playing old time music with a lead singer aged 74, who was pretty brilliant. Overall, a very good night. I left at a reasonable time without going overboard, which meant I then had the pleasure of watching the office the following morning struggle! :-)
  • I used my last spare day on Friday. A long run, followed by a lovely lunch at the Cinnamon Club then a trip to the National Gallery. it was supposed to be wrapped up with drinks with a friend, but their work got in the way.
    Venison
  • Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night, so wandering around town on the Friday there were gatherings at the statue in Parliament Square and outside the embassy in Trafalgar Square, where people were queuing to sign a book of remembrance.
    Memorial

Training

After a week off for injury, I was back training this week.

  • 3.34 miles @ 9:57 paces. Fairly steady run
  • 3.05 miles @ avg9:46 pace. Interval runs, with fast 1k pieces (well, sort of)
  • 9.03 miles @ 10:42 pace. Steady run around Richmond Park
  • 16:04 miles @ 10:45 pace. Another run around Richmond Park, along with the hills. My farthest run yet! Felt pretty good, although last mile was painful, but I kept up the pace. There was a santa run there at the same time, but did not fins myself in the middle of them!
    Santa Run in Richmond Park
Dec 03

Boots Blogger Event – Sensationail

Last week I attended a blogger event, pulled together under the auspices of Boots I believe. It was aimed at beauty bloggers, so not 100% sure why I was on the list, but it was a very good event, looking at 2 different devices that use light to help you in the quest for looking and feeling good.

First of these was the more straightforward. It’s Sensationail, a system that provides you with the ability to use gel nail varnish at home. The key component is a light nail dryer. Powered by LED lights, (so it stays reasonably cool), the lamp dries the layers in 60 seconds, so that it easy to create great looking nails.

Sensationail Starter Kit

Sensationail Starter Kit

I like wearing nail varnish, but it is something I don’t do very often. i tend to have 2 major problems. First, getting the varnish on and getting it dried before it smudges and smears. Secondly, keeping it on as I’m prone to too many chips.

The system seems to help me with both problems. The process to paint your nails does take a while, with at least 5 different layers to be added – cleaner, base 1, base 2, polish layer (there can be more than one), then top coat. But with the light system, it dries very quickly, so I never managed to get it smudged.

So far, I have not managed to chip the gel polish. I have, however, managed to flake of sections but this is directly attributed to where I did not finish the application properly, either taking it too far onto skin or not capping the nail. the ones where I managed to get it all right, it sticks on well without chipping. The lesson? I need a LOT more practice!

Two other things I was told that sounds good – you can mix the colours to make your own new ones and it’s great for nail art as you can paint and wipe until it’s right before setting it.

Not my usual post, but it was a great event and I picked up a lot of tips. Perfect for dressing up for the Christmas party this week!

Dec 02

2013 – Week 48

Reading

Doing

  • Took a day off on Monday and used it to wander round London looking at Sir Christopher Wren Churches

    Wren's Churches

  • On the same day had lunch at the Michelin starred Club Gascon. Gorgeous!
  • On Wednesday, attended a blogger event at the May Fair Hotel, where we got to look at the Sensationails gel nail varnish system and the iPulse Smooth Skin System. Had a great talk by a professor of laser physics! Full write up to follow.
  • On Friday, I was at another brand event, this one a pop-up bar for Grey Goose. Gorgeous cocktails and a very, very slick event showcasing the brand. Very impressive dressing and service. I ended up going on to club with some people from the event, having a really good night and a very late finish :-)
  • Saturday was shopping day. Having reached target size, headed out to the Westfield stores to collate the start of the capsule wardrobe, over an above my work jeans/tops. Very successful outing with all the required pieces purchased in a couple of hours!
  • Put the tree up! Yes, it’s early, but I like the lights in an evening!

Training

There as none. A knee injury necessitated taking the week off. I rested, started added some specific strength exercises and bought a knew support. Took a light run on Sunday to test it and so far so good

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
Oct 25

Playful13 – Nature of Games

Pippin Barr – What are curious games

Pippin is a game designer, artist and critic who has done many wonderful things that you’re probably already too busy cooing over to bother finish reading this. He’s just spent the past month working to create the Digital Marina Abramovich Institute, where visitors can experience exercises designed by Abramovich and view some performance art. He’ll be talking about Curious Games.

His wife calls the games he makes curious games. Will be talking about a bunch of his games, and reflect what games can do. So what does it all mean? Games allow for interactivity, something that movies do not. You can ask a question and it gives an answer, or asks a question back. A game ai made a few years ago was literal – Guru Quest. You could ask any question, or ask about the meaning of life etc. You would have these conversations. And sometimes it brings values. It’s just a chatbot – but a guru can say anything that may be important, so works well. It can lead ot deep thoughts or adsurbities. Allows player to think about things.

Games allow us to take on interesting roles- what if one of us was God. So the flood story – runs the worlds, gets bored, floods everything and starts again. So ‘Let there be Smite’ to play this role. Play god, so smite or forgive. You get asked. As the population in the game increases, there are more sinners, more dialog boxes. You change behaviour. you don;t think, you just click and to stop the dialog boxes. A moral disintegration of not caring. If there’s too much sin, hit the panic button, flood and kill everyone, start again.

We ask if games are worthwhile. Are we asking if this is fun? Or make a game about whether the game is worthwhile. Made a game about ‘The Artist is Present’ based on Marina Abromovic. So you go to Moma, NY, (in the game) and if it is open (game had same opening hours as real place). You ‘buy’ ticket, you walk through gallerys and find queue. You can wait. And wait. Queue moves every 24mins. So you may bypass the queue, walk to the front to see what is happening. A person sitting in a chair, opposite a woman in a red dress. This was a real installation – and now the game allows you to do this. You need too decide if it is worth waiting in the queue. It can take 5 hours to get through to the front of the queue.

What makes a game what it is. If you change a small piece, if it is the same game or is it something else. SO played with Pong. Made 36 different versions. Called it Pongs. Changes rules. How the paddles move. Left and Right as well as up and down. You can graft something on, so every so often you get answered a trivia question before you can carry on the game – get it right, get more points. You need to be good at more than one thing – game as well as geography for example. You can change the way it looks. The ball is little people, the paddles are flags and it becomes about refugees.

But is it art? Causes controversy, the question, So wanted to make a game, to get player to think about the question. Made Art Game. In B&W as art game. You play as an artist, live in NY, live in studio. You contribute to a group art show. You have to make something..as you paint, it turns into a game of Snake. When you lose…you have a painting. You are trying to fail beautifully to make art. Once you have some, the curator may or may not like the pictures. And some people never get a picture in the show. The you get to see your picture in the ‘museum’.

So what’s wrong with my iPhone? Video games played on hardware. Interested in iphone, it is annoyingly perfect. I wanted to make a game that is the opposite to the ease. It is Snake..but different controls. You can tilt the phone, Or turn the phone. Thrust mode – you thrust the phone in the direction of the snake. All different ways of playing Snake, the phone becomes a different object, it’s a different experience.

So Marina Abromavic emailed him…and he entered into this collaboration. She is creating an institute, where people can go to learn about appreciation of time, space etc. So made digital version. It is the only real version that exists at the moment, as the physical building does not exist (yes). Opened a few days ago. So exercises. Slow motion walk, as slow as possible up the ramp. There are representations of real performance art – climbing naked up and down a ladder. An dit changes – because in the game, it can last forever.

Finally, wanted to make a game about death. Wanted to generate a feeling about this experience. (showed demonstration)

Oct 25

Playful13: Making Mishief

Dani Lurie. Making Mischief

Graphic designer and a writer. Is really highly excitable. Especially about getting people to interact with the world in interesting ways. So that brings us to mischief. It has traditionally been bad. Associated with troublemakers. So why is it good, why worth talking about. When a toddler, her and her brothers had broken the parent’s VCR by feeding it biscuits. That was mischief. Bit it’s about learning, experiencing, Experiential learning is an important developmental process, how we grow

When studying psychology, leaned ot enjoy experiments, developing them. TO allow people to do just enough to shake up the world. Look at the 60s shock experiment (Milbrun), to see how many people would increase the shocks for people, 26 out of 40 administered the full amount – even up to lethal dose. After this, they looked at crowd size. they devised experiment, to get people to point up, to see how many people had to be pointing before others looked up. Increased group size lead to increased behaviour. 1 person gives 40%, then 85% when group was 40 students. It revealed the nature of conformance behaviour, without providing distress. That was one they recreated as psych students/We had been given a licence to mess with the mundane – silliness had a real purpose. And that is mischief.

See it as a way to conduct experiments, to learn by doing. Explore mundane by provoking else. They don’t have to be bad. it is to test and discover and have fun. so positive or purposeful mischief. Last year, Mcdonalds sold fries of all sides for equiv of £1. So students ordered so much fries they brought them out in trays – potato parties. They caused social trouble, but had fun.

We created a magazine, with content about testing and about investigations. We tested hangover cures (not good for writer), we tested ways to juice an orange, from syringe to run over with car. We anted to experiment with things we had only dreamed of doing, with things that had not been done before. Based round one question, what would happen if. If we planted a guerilla garden, made cheese, hold a pen race, walking tour at a music festival.

Some of our favourates. What would happen if you posted a banana. 21m items posted through Royal Mail. Some don;t make it. How far would they go to get items from one place to another. Would they deliver things smelly. We put stamps on items – jeans, biscuits, crisps, DVD. the crisp packet arrived empty, Then we tried items of funny shapes or textures, to outfox auto sorting systems. Scarf, umbrella, clothes peg. Et. For umbrella, we had to distract the clerk to get it into the system, It did make it to the destination (the recipients did not know, and got told off nearly every time). Scarf did not make it. The long thin letter was folded in half. The sponge did not make it (but stamps may have fallen off).

Next a group of suspicious items. Flour in a box, that arrived. The flour in a bag, refused by first postoffice, as it was unwrapped. they told the next that the packaging ws wrapping paper. Had a normal envelope, but stamp upside down – and that is treason…(outdated law). The letter contained the word ‘Treason’. We think it was received..recipient had not confirmed but discussed hate mail so that may have been it. The porn DVD did not arrive.

Smelly things. Brie – had been rewrapped. And had changed shape, so not a ‘letter’..so recipient was charged more. Wrapped banana arrived, the unwrapped did not. The vial of ‘urine’ did arrive fine

Sentimental items The flowers arrived fine. The stuffed toy was ok. The hello kitty cup did not make it.

Last we sent valuable items. Keys – arrived. Oyster card arrived fine. Lottery ticket, was fine – although postman advised choice of numbers was not good. The £5 and £10 arrived fine.

Next project – contacting people who share your name. WIth the internet, you have to share it with a lot more people. Her shared name person, was creative, filmmaker, lives in New York. She decided to contact, because she could. Emails led to Skype chat. Very good conversation, a lot of similarities. The NY person had visited home town and stayed with people who knew her family. We tried a few others in the team, a lot morenames

One last project. Playing hide and seek in busy public space. Added a few twists to make it interesting. FIrst play in bookshop or library and you learn a new fact when hiding – the one with best fact wins. Then Halfterm toyshoppocolypse. Play in children’s toyshop a the busiest time. There is no strategy to game, it is terrifying. Only option is to keep moving. Most players found quickly. Last game is Ride and Seek. Playing it on a moving train. You start at the station and need to stay on train, but can move around between carriages at stops. Once hider found, then will follow the seeker.