Weeknotes 2024-19

Despite Monday being a bank holiday, this week mysteriously felt really long. On Wednesday I was really struggling to remember that it wasn’t Friday. Also, as predicted, the weather’s gone from “why is it still so cold” to “it’s too hot”.

On Friday I saw some vague chatter about the possibility of seeing an aurora across the UK, but was convinced that it wouldn’t come to anything, or at the very least would constitute a few faint coloured streaks if you looked really hard. I went to bed early, slept well, and woke up to find social media filled with all my friends posting amazing photos from their back gardens. Oh well, that’ll teach me. Mind you, I get the impression it looked far more impressive in photos than in real life, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Saturday was the Twilight 5k, a very flat fast race round the Ipswich waterfront, and surprisingly one of the very few local 5k events. It was the scene of my one and only sub-20 time (19:19 – I’m still not sure how that happened!), back in 2019, which after trying for several years would have finally qualified me for the fast wave, but then they switched to just asking for an estimated time, and of course Covid put paid to it for a while. This year the fast wave was tightened up to sub-19, so I think I can give up any hope of a chance to be the slowest of the fast people, but I was kind of hopeful of finally getting under 20 again. I even skipped parkrun in the morning, for the first time in 18 months or so, but alas it wasn’t to be, with a stitch after the first lap putting paid to any hope of maintaining the required pace. I ended up with 20:19, which was a bit disappointing, although it turns out that’s not far off a 75% age graded time, so I can’t really complain.

Finishing the Twilight 5k, looking about as bad as I felt.

After a few post-race beers I went home to bed, getting up a couple of times in case the aurora made a second appearance. Predictably, it didn’t, other than a possible vaguely greenish tinge to the sky at one point.

Thanks to some typically poor race-entering admin on my behalf, I then had to get up for the Stephen Williams 10k on Sunday morning. For some reason the weather at this event is always really warm, and this year continued the trend (although nothing like as hot the first year it took place). I managed to drag my tired legs round in just under 46 minutes. I decided that it’s officially summer, and risked opening my sunroof for the drive home, for the first time since mid November when I replaced the one that got stuck half-open. Pleased to report smooth operation, although to be fair I haven’t actually tried closing it again yet.


Weeknotes 2024-18

After last week’s fiasco of leaving my car keys at work, this Tuesday I made sure they were definitely on the kitchen table before cycling to work. I brought my laptop home again, with the intention of sneaking an extra work-from-home day in on Wednesday, but left my jeans in the locker again. This would have been fine except that that (a) I was going out on Wednesday night, (b) I should probably have more than one decent pair of jeans, and (c) I’d just washed the other pair, and they were still drying. I ended up going in to the office after my 9 o’clock customer catchup call on Wednesday (so I could get a 9.5 mile Run for Coffee in first), then left shortly after lunch, having barely spoken to any of the few other people who were in.

The main reason for coming home early was that my Steam Deck was due to be delivered in the afternoon. I’m not a massive gamer, leaning more towards classic and indie games, but even the limited selection that have been ported to macOS has dwindled, with a lot of older titles no longer running on 64 bit machines. The Steam Deck seemed like a good way of being able to casually play the odd game here and there, the price for a factory reconditioned 256GB model wasn’t too bad, and it seems like a pretty nice device so far. I’ve started playing through Portal and Limbo yet again, as well as the original Half Life, which I never quite managed to finish. I also realised that since leaving Twitter I wasn’t finding out about Steam sales or Humble Bundle deals, so I need to start looking out for them elsewhere.

On Wednesday night we went to the pub quiz again, and this time they’d remembered our reservation. We somehow managed to win again, but annoyingly in the process of taking the 50% off our bill that they’d promised for the mistake last time, and also taking off our £50 winnings, I’m pretty sure they managed to do them in the wrong order, and effectively halve our winnings too. I did half-heartedly query it, but he seemed sure he’d done it right. Still, can’t really complain to have paid under a fiver for a quiz, a meal and a couple of pints.

On Saturday I ran to parkrun rather than cycling, then on my way home had to weave through a town centre already increasingly full of Ipswich fans preparing for the game that would see them promoted to the Premiership. I shudder to think what things must have been like in the afternoon and evening after the match.

On Saturday I did the Kesgrave Fun Run, as a sharpener for next weekend’s Twilight 5k. I just about managed to squeeze under 20 minutes, in my fastest time of four times doing this event, but for some reason (probably because it’s a charity run organised by a pub, rather than a serious race!) the course is always about 150 metres short. Still, with a bit of luck and better rested legs, I might stand a chance of getting a legitimate sub 20 next week. In true British fashion, after months of moaning that it was still winter, the sun came out so we deliberately found a table in the shade for a post-race beer.


Weeknotes 2024-17

This has been the first week of stricter enforcement of the “three together, two wherever” (ie at least three days in the office) policy at work. It’s mildly annoying, but at least it’s not too far and I’m colocated with people I actually work with. It must be very irritating to people forced to make a long commute to sit in an office full of strangers, each on their own Teams calls. More to the point though, and more on-brand, it indirectly provided this week’s tale of incompetence. Having decided to take advantage of three consecutive days in the office by leaving my laptop in my changing room locker rather than lugging it in and back on my bike every day, I thought I might as well leave my jeans there on Tuesday too, given that I only needed running gear to go out in the evening. Only when I got home did I remember noticing early in the day that my car key was in my pocket, rather than in its normal place on the kitchen table. Fortunately I managed to scrounge a lift to Felixstowe for training.

On Wednesday I got a train to Norwich to see Jim Bob at the Waterfront. There was no support, just one set with just Chris TT on piano, then a second with the full Hoodrats band. A very quiet crowd by Carter standards, and no bubble machine from Mr Spoons during Touchy Feely at the end, but a great night of Carter and solo tunes nonetheless.

Jim Bob and the Hoodrats

I managed (just) to wake up and drag myself out of bed to run for coffee on Friday. I even put some effort in on the Strava segment through Christchurch Park, and surprised myself by recording my fastest time. Garmin’s also marked it as my fastest 1k, which makes for a very flattering time given how downhill it is.

Inspired by that, with no Sunday racing to provide an excuse, and with my usual parkrun run & chat partner working a Saturday shift, I pushed myself on Saturday too, and managed my tenth-fastest parkrun, second-fastest on that course, and second-best age grade. Then a long slow run in Sunday’s drizzle to really finish my legs off.


Weeknotes 2024-16

Having commented on how fortunate last Sunday’s weather was, given how far we had to walk in shorts & vests before and after the LB 10k, Monday demonstrated just how fortunate, with wind, rain, hail and a sudden end to the brief spell of summery weather almost before it had started. I opted not to leave the house.

I’ve now finished watching all the A-Team episodes. Season four started getting silly (from, to be fair, quite a high starting point), with big name guest appearances (Hulk Hogan twice, Isaac Hayes, [Cow]Boy George etc), and Season five completely lost the plot, in that they end up working for the CIA (in the person of Robert Vaughn), Murdoch’s been released from the VA, and they have a new team member for no obvious reason. No great surprise that it was cancelled midway through, although it’s a puzzle why the last two episodes were swapped round, with the obvious finale followed by what looks like a very low budget last outing, that begins with footage spliced in from a previous season then mostly takes place inside an Italian restaurant. Anyway, if my count is correct they only get locked in a workshop five times (plus once in a toy/firework warehouse) across the whole 95-episode run, which is fewer times than Endo off of Lethal Weapon makes an appearance as a generic baddy henchman.

Apparently I’ve now solved my Rubik’s puzzle cube over 2,500 times (and that’s just the ones I used the timer for), which I’m sure is perfectly normal and fine. My average time is now around 50s, and I don’t think my memory is up to learning enough extra algorithms to get it much faster.

Wednesday should have been Run for Beer, but once again a poor weather forecast put everyone off. I went out for a little solo trail run anyway, and to be fair I did end up slightly cold and wet. The bluebells were nice though.


For some reason I kept thinking Thursday was Friday, to the extent that I even made rock buns in the evening to take to parkrun. I was quite disappointed to wake up the next morning and remember there was still one day of the working week left. I did at least manage to refrain from eating most of the rock buns, so I could still take them to parkrun.

I ate a bit of the extreme chilli chocolate from a long ago beer festival that’s still in the fridge. It’s been long enough since I ate any (not sure how long exactly, but it’s best before 2015) that I thought maybe it wasn’t so painfully hot after all. I can, however, report that yes, it very much is. Maybe I’ll have another bite in a few more years.

I went for a long run on Sunday, and missed most of the traditional “Where’s Wally” activity of trying to spot people I know in the BBC London Marathon coverage. Lots of people seemed to do very well though. Obviously I’m never going to do a marathon, but also obviously I’ve put myself into the ballot for next year as usual.


Weeknotes 2024-15

Quiet week, apparently.

Spring seems to have very much sprung, with temperatures hitting 20?C at the weekend (first week of cycling to parkrun with nothing over my T-shirt) and bluebells etc springing up everywhere.

Little Bromley 10k on Sunday – one of the fastest local races of that distance (my PB is on the older version of the course). Good weather again, which is always a relief as there’s quite a distance to walk from the car park to the start and even further from the finish back to the car, and I wouldn’t fancy that if it were cold and raining. It went pretty well, and I came away with my second fastest ever time, which is pleasing as an increasingly old man. Then after getting home we cycled to the pub for a few pints outside in the sunshine, which has naturally written off the rest of the afternoon.

Er …

… that’s it.


Weeknotes 2024-14

Leftover item that I forgot to include last week: a return visit to the dentist for a replacement filling. All very straightforward and painless, despite the lack of injection. Well, apart from the price, I suppose.

I took advantage of the second extra day of weekend to get a longish slow run in, even managing to find a couple of miles of trails I’d never run before (including a slightly hairy crossing of the A12). The route back through the Fynn Valley took me past the tyre swing over the river (well, stream really), that I’m pretty sure I’ve never passed without having a quick go. This time I found that both the rope and the tyre had been replaced by beefier versions, although it now hangs a bit lower, increasing the risk of wet feet. It later transpired that it had been replaced by someone I know, after someone cut the old one down.

Back to work, and the usual procedure of trying to work out what on earth I’d been doing before taking a week off. Fortunately I’d had the foresight to leave a long commit message to my future self explaining what I’d left half-done.

I managed to make a coffee run on Wednesday, for the first time in a while. There were only three of us, one of whom was rushing off afterwards, so we didn’t actually stop for coffee (which is fine, as I can make a better cup at home than I can buy from Ian Greggs).

My [so-called] Mini had its MOT test on Friday (the first one since I bought it nearly a year (and a massive 2126 miles) ago. Fortunately it sailed through, with only a couple of tyre-related advisories (which was, surprisingly, three fewer than the previous year). Surprisingly, the cost of an MOT test (with a discount code) seems to be 25% cheaper than it was 20 years ago. And 20 years ago it definitely wasn’t possible to check the test status and advisory list on your phone while walking to the garage to collect the car.

Hopefully another year’s cheap (and more reliable than the Roadster!) motoring awaits.

Another long run on Sunday, on a slightly longer variation of Monday’s route, and this time with Holly. Obviously we both had to have a go on the swing, and both ended up with slightly wet feet (but didn’t actually fall in). The weather’s suddenly started getting warm again, with very little pause in the Goldilocks zone of running temperature. Thanks to last week’s long run technically being this week, it’s been my first 50+ mile week of the year.

We’re now 25% through #48in24, and I’m still keeping up. I definitely haven’t ever written code (albeit not much code) in so many languages in such a short time before.

Exercism #48in24

Weeknotes 2024-13

End of the leave year, so I had this week off to use up the last of my allocation of days. Which was nice.

My new TV arrived on Monday. Fortunately the template I’d made to check for fit was accurate, and it just squeezes onto the corner wall (with about 10mm total clearance).
As is my wont, I ignored the safety instructions’ insistence that (a) the wall mount should be installed by a professional, and (b) the TV needed three people to lift it, and with a bit of ingenuity, planning and some minor jeopardy I managed to successfully get it up on the wall on my own. I’ll probably stick to one of the other instructions though, namely “do not throw anything at the TV set”. Which is why I don’t watch Question Time.

Once I’d removed the old (home-made by me) media tower, the (likewise) MDF projector screen, the projector shelf, the projector, the old TV, various bits of obsolete kit like a Sky box and a TiVo (!) and a phenomenal pile of now-unused cables, and filled and painted over some holes, the room now looks much tidier (or might once I sort out the piles of random stuff in the other corner!)

Incredible cable mess
Nearly there
Much simpler!
And it’s up! Obviously important to choose the most up-to-date high-quality content to show off the 4k resolution!

My new Mac arrived too. Apart from it being many times times faster than the old one, the switch was almost anticlimactic. A couple of hours for the migration assistant to do its thing, and everything from apps to preferences to command line tools was set up and running pretty much exactly as before, which isn’t bad considering the new one’s running a whole different processor architecture. The first Macs I used were 680×0-based, so over the years I’ve now migrated from there to PowerPC to Intel to Apple Silicon.

Another month’s Run for Beer has rolled round already (actually it should have been last week, but hardly anyone could make it then). Before we know it spring will be here and we’ll be out in beer gardens again. This week we headed to the Three Wise Monkeys. That made the route slightly shorter, which fitted in nicely with it being in a fairly short gap between last weekend’s 15 mile race and a five mile one this Friday.

Run for Beer (everyone else thought to have an extra layer available at the finish, but then none of them ran home afterwards either)

Friday was the Sudbury “fun run”, which despite the name is very much a proper race. I did it last year too, but had completely forgotten that the second half is pretty much all uphill. They’d had to move the finish line at the last minute thanks to some emergency roadworks, so it was 4.75 miles instead of five, but the missing bit would have all been downhill! My pace was pretty much identical to last year, and it was nice to average under 7 minutes a mile again.

Saturday’s parkrun was another story altogether – just dragging myself round at 9 minute+ pace was a real struggle. The heart rate monitor on my watch backed this up, with the average value being weirdly almost as high as the maximum I’d hit on Friday. At least I’d taken along the batch of hot cross buns I’d made on Friday to hand round, so I got to refuel before cycling home.

Another Easter; same old joke

On Sunday I headed back to the same park to run the parkrun course again, this time as part of the annual Beat the Bunny unofficial handicap race (start times are based on your fastest 5k so far this year, and the fastest runner is chasing you all down wearing a bunny suit). There seem to be fewer quick people at these events every year, to the extent that I was the last non-leporine runner to depart. Fortunately my best 2024 parkrun time was slow enough to give me a four minute head start, so the bunny didn’t catch me and I wasn’t quite last. In fact I even improved on my handicap time!

The bunny

Weeknotes 2024-12

I took the day off on Thursday, and finally dismantled the chicken run (a mere eight years since I last had any chickens). It was surprisingly difficult to get apart, despite me having removed most of the screws last weekend. Still a lot of clearing to do before I can get the greenhouse up in its place though.

Going …
… gone

I tried to finally watch Everything Everywhere All At Once, but the Blu-Ray turned out not to be from whatever region the UK is in (it’s so long since I thought about region codes that I didn’t even realise they were still a thing). I braced myself for a complicated return/refund process, but they just issued an immediate refund and don’t even want me to bother sending the disc back, which feels like a strange way of doing business. Yay Amazon, I guess?

After what surprisingly turns out to be 17 years, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and ordered a massive TV to replace my projector (and the marginally less old small TV). I don’t think when I knocked up a 72″ screen out of MDF even longer ago, for the projector before that, that I expected to ever be able to replace it with an actual telly with an extra diagonal foot of picture. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow, then we’ll find out whether the piece of board I cut to match the cross-section of the TV to confirm that it (barely) fits in the room was in fact the correct size (it’ll go on the wall that cuts across the corner at 45?, so the taper at the edges was a critical enough part of the measurement that a tape measure didn’t really cut it).

Incidentally, I assume everyone types the ? symbol by holding down option and mashing the keyboard until the right glyph appears, then deleting the rest?

I ordered a new laptop too, as my 2018 Air is struggling these days (eg right this minute, when the load average has mysteriously jumped into the 600s), so it’s been a tough week for my credit card.

I ran the Colchester 15 today (actually in Langham, which is even closer than Colchester). It was much hillier than I expected, but I survived and even technically got a PB, though there’s not much competition at that distance and the only other 15 I’ve done were Benfleet, which is largely off road and full of mud. Getting there in the first place was less straightforward than expected – I’d offered to drive, but minutes before Rob and Dave arrived I discovered that the long-standing slow puncture in my offside front tyre had turned overnight into a complete flat. Fortunately after pumping it up it retained its inflation for the day, but getting that replaced will be a task for this week (along with the battery, which also chose today to go from “only lasts a day or so after being charged” to “doesn’t retain any charge at all” (fortunately I have one of those amazing little jump-start booster battery things).


Weeknotes 2024-11

After spending all of Monday cobbling my second AgileFest talk together (by which I mostly mean scouring the web for CC-licensed images to put on slides, along with a few less generic ones from my photo history), I think I more or less got away with it. This one was an experience report of 20 years of doing agile development in (and often despite) a company that’s spent most of that time repeatedly attempting Agile Transformations™. I do seem to have a weird knack of being able to spend a few hours throwing slides together and ending up with them forming an outline of a talk of approximately the required length.

With the end of the leave year rapidly approaching, I finally got round to taking a couple of days off this week. I didn’t do a huge amount with them, although I did make a start on dismantling the old chicken run to give me space to put the greenhouse up. I’ve basically removed all the screws holding the sections of mesh panelling together (apart from a couple that were rounded off and seized in place), but it’s still doggedly retaining structural integrity.

Stowmarket half on Sunday. A new course this year, with a few hills and a second half into a headwind, but I managed more or less the same OK-but-not-great time as I did at Great Bentley.

Before …
… and in the pub afterwards (waiting for entries to open for the Woodbridge 10k)

Weeknotes 2024-10

Oh dear, nearly a week late.

A Bangla curry on Wednesday, with three of us retiring to the pub afterwards for another few pints, for my first “mid week half dozen” for a while. That didn’t bode well for the Thursday Tempo Ten (no racing this weekend, so no excuses) – especially as I was reminded when I said “see you tomorrow for TTT” as we parted ways that it was technically today. As predicted, TTT wasn’t a pleasant experience (is it ever?), but I more-or-less managed to hit my 75 minute target. I blame having to negotiate cars turning in and out of side roads for the extra three seconds.

It was Badger and Ninja cats’ fourth birthdays on Friday, but I forgot, so no cake for them. They’re more-or-less getting along with the new addition (who’s still going by Cosmo, the name he was given by his previous owners, as I haven’t had any inspiration for a better name). I wouldn’t say they’re exactly friends yet, but they’re happy to eat together without any growling.

Four hungry cats

I finally got round to registering my YTD app with the Strava developer programme, under vague threats that they might disable API access for unregistered apps, which would be annoying for the literally dozens of users.

In “will he ever learn?” news, I spent a reasonable proportion of the weekend preparing a demo for TDD talk I’m doing an agile event at work on Tuesday. Now I just need to put some slides together, then also write the second talk I’m doing at the same event.