29 June 2013

Abingdon Parkrun

Remarkably, only seven seconds short of a PB for this event - though that might change when the official times are published, as my PB is a couple of seconds faster officially than it is on my Garmin account. How do I manage that, on so little running, none of it proper training?

Even better, my time includes about 9 seconds for tying a lace, so in truth it was a PB or at least an equal PB. The lace came loose just after mile 1, and by the time we came round to the same point on the second lap I had passed all the people who passed me while I was re-tying it. At the finish I was approached with an invitation to run a 3,000M race on Monday for the Amblers, so I must have made an impression!

18 June 2013

Legal Writing Prof Blog: overcoming procrastination (an oxymoron?)

The Legal Writing Prof Blog offers a couple of articles on overcoming procrastination which are obviously required reading for me: some of my readers might also benefit from them - but if your procrastination takes the form of reading my blog, or blogs, please don't allow me to interrupt you.

It strikes me that reading an article on overcoming procrastination is a bit of an oxymoron ...

14 June 2013

Wheel's on fire

As I was securing my bike at the station this morning, an incoming commuter arrived at the bike shed to find only a pair of wheels, securely fastened to the rack. He was remarkably phlegmatic, in a situation in which most people would have been very angry and many would have gone off on a Daily Mail style rant against immigration and other common scapegoats. Another cyclist advised him to get the CCTV footage, which I hope will help him recover the frame.

I made doubly sure that my two U-locks secured the wheels to the frame, and now I have a longer one at home I might bring that into service too. After all, it's quite a long walk or run home, and having paid £45 for quite a good bike (!) I don't want to become a victim of crime. Even the lights and pump have been untouched for years, though I rarely leave my bike at the station overnight as my unfortunate interlocutor does (or did).

06 June 2013

After Dark

A former commuting friend mentioned After Dark by Wilkie Collins, saying he'd enjoyed reading it: and I have been doing likewise, pleased to find it available from Project Gutenberg (here) and enjoying it greatly - except for one thing ...

Why, I wonder, has someone taken the trouble to translate it into American? All the "-our" words have become "-or", and other American spellings have been adopted. (I have an American edition of an Iain Rankin novel on my shelf, and reading that was an even weirder experience - why on earth go to the trouble and expense of making all those changes?)

Now, about 90 per cent of the way through (Kindle's alternative to providing page numbers: it's page 225 if you read it online), I find "met with". Why? Did Collins write it that way, I wonder? See, it even makes me doubt what I know about writing English. OK, perhaps there are circumstances in which it would be correct, but not in this context:
Old recollections of the first day when he met with Nanina ...
There's no translator credited on the title page, and for "language" Gutenberg states "English". Were his moral rights engaged (had he ever had such things, in fact) would Collins be able to sue on the basis that this is a derogatory treatment? Of course, translations are not "treatment" for the purposes of section 80, which raises the question whether the defendant would argue that this was indeed a translation. But if treatment it be, what could be more derogatory than giving the impression that a celebrated English author could neither spell nor observe the rules of English grammar?

The book, incidentally, is a delight. Some lovely turns of phrase, and some wonderful stories, though somewhat dated (from 1856, so hardly surprising).

05 June 2013

Something cool

It's unseasonably cool today, for June. I woke up feeling worn out, as I seem to do most days at the moment: I hate to acknowledge it, but I need a large cup of strong black coffee to get me going, and some exercise to get me fully awake. The ride to the station fills that need, but I do wonder sometimes if I am overdoing it. How many men in their late fifties (which, I must also acknowledge includes me), incorporate a five-mile cycle ride, one performed as fast as I can manage, into their working routine?

Normally, of course, this is only for three days of the week, and sometimes I wimp out and use the car. This week, though, the car is hors de combat, as a friend's father once described one of the cars of my youth, struggling to get MoT fit, so yesterday my "working from home" day had to include a ride into Didcot to collect a couple of track rod ends and handbrake cables (which I am getting a professional too fit) as well as some time to dismantle the front bumper and take a headlamp apart, in the interests of overcoming classic MGF dim headlamp syndrome. Along with some regular work, mowing the lawn and doing a little cleaning, it made for a tiring day, such that I skipped the running opportunities available in the evening (and, of course, regretted doing so).

As I reached the descent to Upton on my ride to the station this morning, a descent which on the new bike with sprung front forks I take without braking and often while still pedalling, I overtook a pick-up truck with a dog trotting alongside. The driver was keeping to the left, but might not have seen me: fortunately it all went without incident. I did, in fact, slow down to make the pass. Further on, at the edge of Didcot, two men out walking myriad dogs had stopped to chat facing each other across the cycle path, making a very effective road block I rang my bell as I approached and they unhurriedly moved to one side, by which time I had lost all momentum. They did not merit, nor did they receive, a "good morning" or "thank you".

03 June 2013

Joy of a Toy

After yesterday's great run, I was keen to check that it wasn't a fluke. But the weekend's work had left me feeling exhausted even when I woke up this morning - thank goodness I had had the presence of mind to set the coffee maker before I retired.

A brisk cycle ride to the station saw me taking an earlier-than-usual train, but I could only run part of the way from Paddington to the office because of the need to buy some C4 envelopes to get the last few Motor Laws in the post - the plastic bags ran out at last, as I wrapped the latest edition, my last task of the weekend. I can't very well run with 50 envelopes in my hand , although I did manage to run as far as Rymans in Baker Street. From waking up knackered at 0600 to running a mile at 0900 is progress, of a sort.
This evening looked perfect. It had been a glorious day, not the first of the year but there haven't been many like this one , given the ridiculously long winter we have had to endure. I took my favourite route through Regent's Park, onto the Regent's Canal towpath and thence to Padddington. Before the enforced diversion at the Maida Vale tunnel, I happened to notice for the first time that it's possible to see right through to Little Venice, where the evening sun was glistening on the water. Lovely, although Little Venice always makes me think of of Kevin Ayers who lived in a houseboat there while recording Joy of a Toy at Abbey Road. Not that I knew him: but I saw him live twice, and listened to his records thousands of times, which means I almost knew him, I suppose.

Well, the run to Paddington was satisfying though nearly half an hour for 3.11 miles is unspectacular. Of course it's not a quick route, with lots of interruptions even if all the cyclists you encounter are sensible and friendly (as they were this evening). I reached my train without the desired distance showing on The Watch, perhaps because I left from 77 instead of 66 Portland Place, so I ran a tenth of a mile up and down the platform to make it up.
The title of this post is apposite for another reason too: I have the joy of trying out my latest toy (actually a really serious business tool for anyone who writes professionally), a Bluetooth keyboard for the Playbook. In fact it's a generic BT keyboard, but it forms part of a nice case (although I would prefer the vegan alternative to leather)  which makes a practical combination, tough some sort of closure on the case would have been nice. And the keyboard misses some of my keystrokes, repeats others - I hope I can adjust the sensitivity. This first effort does not look too bad but it has been a fairly laborious process to type this and correct it.

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