40

When this publishes I will officially be 40.

Woo.

Seemingly it’s all downhill from here, but when the hill’s not that big in the first place the decline is hardly noticeable. Or maybe it’s ‘life begins’? All I do know is I don’t have everything figured out yet and I still don’t feel like a grown up. Will that ever happen?

Like when I turned 30, I don’t expect much to change. I can’t see me slowing down or changing habits and I’m far more active than I was 10 years ago. It doesn’t change who I am. I’ve not given it much thought apart from realising that these milestone or event birthdays are starting to run out.

1,16,18,21,25,30,40,50,65,80,100

I’m probably missing some and 65 is changing for us ‘youngsters’ in that the expectation is I’ll work to 68 rather than the traditional retiring age of 65. Scarily still not reached the halfway point of my working life. Gulp.

Nevertheless, some big milestones have passed with less to come going forward. Probably more related to the work news last week, or maybe it’s a bit of both, but I do feel more than ever that I need a plan b. Something to mull over the coming weeks, especially as I have a four week break starting on Dec 10th. Happy days.

Onwards.

Always Lurking

He slips out of his lair. Sticking to the shadows he creeps ever closer waiting to make his presence felt. It starts painlessly, confusing and distracting so he can stay hidden. Is that him? He soon unleashes a blast of light confirming the worst. He’s back. Slow moving he intensifies the brightness before falling silent. Minutes pass.

Then it begins.

migraine

Stabbing at my eye. Over and over and over. The pain spreads. He’s now hammering my head with a bat. I feel sick but when I do vomit it doesn’t help. Only darkness can save me. Darkness and burying my head in a pillow. Darkness, pillows and drugs. Sleep. Please let me sleep. My saviours.

Hours pass.

I wake and he’s gone. Back to his lair. Back knowing he’s won again. Back knowing he will strike again and there is nothing I can do. What’s left are wounds. An aching head that will take hours and days to pass. Constipation thanks to the drugs. A lack of appetite and a massive drop in concentration. If that’s not enough the next night is usually light on sleep so even if the head has cleared a couple of days later I’m left drained. He wins again. The migraine always wins.

I’ve suffered from migraines for over 10 years now. They are far less frequent than when they started, when I used to get clusters of 2 or 3 per week, but probably average out at one a fortnight. I’ve got used to the pain and can spot the symptoms easily now. What I’ve not got used to is the disruption they cause. Take today. A lazy Saturday planned, trip out for some shopping and out of nowhere a migraine struck mid morning. Boom. Day spoiled.

I’m lucky in that I’ve an understanding boss that lets me work around the migraines when they strike during the week but the disruption to mine and others life really frustrates me. I always prided myself in not giving in to an illness but a migraine knocks me for six. I’ve never found my trigger and the majority of mine occur through the night or I wake up with the migraine already under way. For many stress is a trigger and I’ve always dismissed that as a cause as I never really feel stressed. Angry and frustrated at times but I’ve never thought of that as stress – maybe it is. Maybe I need to face up to that and deal with it better.

I’m also lucky as many migraine sufferers have it far worse than me. That doesn’t stop me dreading the next time the migraine leaves his lair.

20

8th May 1993. 20 years ago today. 20 years since my Dad passed away.

He’d suffered for over 5 months with throat cancer and the treatment meant day to day living was getting tougher and tougher. It got to the point that the end was inevitable and was in many ways a relief. It was horrible seeing him suffer so much and just fade away in front of my eyes – can’t imagine how he felt through it all.

I was 19 at the time and finishing off second year at Glasgow University. For me it was all a bit of a blur and if it wasn’t for Hamid and Shak I’d have struggled to get through it all. Uni was a distraction as I was two weeks from exams so I knuckled down and cracked on. I didn’t want to let my Mum and Dad down but it was tough on my Mum as she took on a lot after that until I picked up a job and started to bring in some cash. I also wasn’t the best at speaking to her. In many ways I’ve not changed and still bottle up my feelings.

This anniversary more than any other is in my mind. My Dad’s missed over half my life now. Missed graduating, my first job, my first car, moving home and so much more – time really does fly when you start to look back. He also died young – he was only 52 and later this year I’ll be 40 – only 12 years younger than when he died. Makes you think, well makes me think anyway. It was one of the reasons I kicked of the weight loss a few years back.

With all that in mind I keep coming back to Regrets of the Dying. That will not be me. I will also never forget what my friends did for me back then. Who knows what would have happened without them.

Excuses Excuses

I need another app. Something simpler, something that I can access anywhere. Something to manage my to-do’s. Also need to get my notes sorted, lists etc etc. So I started looking. Maybe Wunderlist, maybe a return to Remember the Milk but nothing seemed to stick. I then read that Apple were doing a promotion on productivity app’s. Maybe I should try Things now that they’ve got cloud syncing sorted?

Does anyone think that this is a great design for an online store? So ugly. Sort it Apple.
Does anyone think that this is a great design for an online store? So ugly. Sort it Apple.

Bollocks. Total and utter bollocks.

Instead of, you know, actually doing stuff with the app’s I’ve got I’m pissing around procrastinating. It’s a trap I’ve fell into before and it’s easily done. Mess around looking for a better tool rather than using what I’ve got. Or stopping to use duplicate app’s and settling down on a few core tools.

So Omnifocus will be used for to-do management. It’s iPad app is far better than the Mac client but version 2 is coming soon (and if you are interested in giving it a try there’s a temporary licence available from Omni while waiting for version 2). As for read it later services, Pocket is now my only app. More versatile than Instapaper and available everywhere. Pinboard has become my link saver of choice. Clean and fast and again there are clients on all platforms plus the web. Finally Evernote is for everything else. PDF’s, manuals, guide’s, recipes, audio notes, web pages, scans…the list is endless and I’m making full use of my premium account.

While I’ll still take a passing interest in similar tools I’ll spend more time being productive rather than shifting from app to app. As a certain Raven Storm used to say, focus…or was it concentrate!

2013

Another year has dawned but unlike previous years no resolutions from me. Last years were all a fail due to a variety of reasons so thats brought my public declarations to a crashing halt. The good news is that I weigh less than I did a year ago. Just. The continual weight challenge is still on.

So Happy New Year and all the best for 2013…and if you missed the soundtrack from the fireworks display at London last night then enjoy this. Capped of a great year to be British.

Updates


No posts for a while but I’ve a few short bursts in me, so here goes:

  • The last couple of weeks at work were pretty busy. I was on an internal course on Lean and how it is applied to manufacturing and also to the wider business. Although that sounds pretty dry it was a fantastic course. While the Lean element was important it was the other skills covered by the course that were far more interesting. Leadership, people interaction, energy, work/life balance…the list goes on. While it was a lot for two weeks it was a real kick up the backside for me. The interaction between attendees was superb and I got loads from it. The trick will be making real permanent change based on the two weeks. Going well so far.

Avengers Assemble

  • Caught up with the new Avengers movie last weekend, or to give it it’s proper UK only title – Avengers Assemble. Spoiler free thoughts are that it’s a great popcorn film – lot’s of action, great effects and surprisingly it’s pretty funny too – and that means funny when it’s meant to be funny and not funny because it’s bad. Or cheesy. I really do recommend catching it in the cinema rather than waiting for the blu-ray, dvdv or – cough cough – some other method of watching it at home as it really is one to watch on a giant screen. I chose to go 2D rather than 3D – still not convinced about 3D as it feels like a gimmick, colours are muddy and it’s not comfortable for over two hours wearing another pair of glasses. One thing I will say – say until after the credits to see the usual Marvel extra after the ending. I don’t want to say too much more about the film…well, I lie. There’s quite a bit I want to say but that will have to wait for now. Roll on June for Prometheus and July for the big black bat.
  • What an end to the Premiership today. Drama right to the last minute but for me the best team won over the season.
  • As for Rangers…at this moment in time I’d prefer a restart in the third. Last few months have been a disgrace really. In fact last decade looks to have been a disgrace. Sad days.
  • Good to catch up with friends this weekend. Good food, good chat and a wee trip around Glasgow. Good to get the camera out again and take some pics. Good, good, good. Lots of good. Need to do more…much more.
  • Loving The Bridge on BBC4. If you’ve not watched it yet catch it on iPlayer.
  • This is some of the most miserable weather for April and May I can remember. So wet and today pretty windy. Feels like November.
  • Quietest period for games is about to come to an end. Ghost Recon is out in a couple of weeks. It’s been delayed for 2-3 years so I hope they deliver something decent although some comments on the beta don’t give me much hope.
  • So many great new iPad apps recently. I’ve been convinced that when the MacBook Airs are refreshed in the next month or so that I’d pick one up but I’m having second thoughts. Unless of course theres some crazy retina display involved. Still, those iPad apps need a whole separate post as some of them are excellent.
  • Struggling with keeping the exercise going over last few weeks. A couple of health issues and busy with work have meant getting time has been difficult. The good news is that my weight is steady so I’m really pleased although would still like to lose a few more kilograms.

Updates done so back to catching up with some TV. Or Xcode. Out of the blue I got back into developing an app and I’m enjoying it so far. Long may it continue.

2012 Resolutions

2011 – your dead to me. Around a year ago I made some 2011 resolutions so before tackling 2012’s goals, how did I do on last years? (spoiler – not too well!)

  1. Lose another 5kg – SUCCESS. This time last year I was 95.8kg. Today I’m 89.2kg. I peaked in January at 97.8kg but my lowest was 86.6kg so I’ve gained a couple of kg’s in the last 6 weeks. Primarily this is due to my sciatica returning meaning no walking, bike or running in the last 7 weeks and a couple of slow and painful badminton sessions. Festive eating hasn’t helped either. So while a success it’s a bit disappointing to gain in the last couple of months.
  2. Publish my own iPhone app – hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha – FAIL.
  3. Climb at least 6 munro’s – FAIL. Four munro’s and the longest leg of the West Highland Way. Weather, illness (me and my walking buddies all had issues throughout the year) meant far less walking than I’d hoped for.
  4. Improve the podcast – FAIL. I was going to say partial fail but that would be pussying out. I’d hoped we’d have refreshed the website and the podcast by year end but instead that will be 2012’s goal. We did however get to episode 100. Nice. The website refresh has already started too, so hopefully that will be in place by mid January. Then it will be time to focus on the podcast (and website) content which won’t be so easy.
  5. Drink more water – SUCCESS. Not majorly, but I have been drinking more water and less diet Irn-Bru which can only be a good thing. Right?
  6. Cycle > 2000 miles – FAIL. So annoying! Total distance for 2011 was 1629.9 miles but the total at end of June was 1117 miles. What happened? Hill walking, illness in Nov and December and also a mad notion to start running all impacted in the last half of the year.
  7. Reduce migraines – SUCCESS. I’ve never got to the bottom of my migraines. They are mostly clustered around May and September with a few sporadic bouts in between but this year there been less, partly due to a dizzy spell at work, a trip to the doctors and more effective (more powerful) drugs. Whether this has helped reduce them overall, or it’s just coincidence I’ll never know but there’s been less actual migraines this year than the last 3 years which is a GREAT thing. Long may it continue.
  8. Read at least one book a month – FAIL. I really struggle to read books. I read a lot online and in magazines but I tend to start books and never finish. Total for this year is two books read, 5 others started but not finished. Out of all the resolutions made last year, this was the one I knew I wouldn’t manage. Idiot.
  9. Be shapeless – WTF? No idea why I added this…I think it was some Bruce Lee reference? Ah yes – it was. Anyway, FAIL. I have not become water.

Now that I’ve reviewed the list 2011 doesn’t seem that bad, but I saw too many friends suffering this year for it to be classed ‘a good year’ and certain aspects of my life didn’t exactly go well either. It’s at this point I want to mouth off about certain people and some work stuff too…but I won’t. Must resist.

I did enjoy some new toys this year – the new iMac is working a treat as is the Civic. Great to drive and a nice step up from the Focus. I picked up an Airport Extreme which has been 100% reliable and something I should have done a couple of years ago. I also enjoyed in no particular order Game of Thrones, Fifa 2012, Uncharted 3, Angles, Words with Friends, The Killing, Halo Reach, The Trip, Forza 4, Drive, Mission Impossible 4, No More Idols, The Shadow Line, Instapaper, Reeder, 21, Rev, This Is England, Portal 2, Senna, The Walking Dead and 5by5.

It was also notable for the toys I didn’t get, namely the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. I’m still amazed that I managed to resist, but resist I did. I can see an new iPad in the next few moths though as new app’s are a tad sluggish on the old girl.

So what about 2012? Despite research saying you shouldn’t tell anyone what your goals are here’s what I’d like to achieve this year.

  1. Lose another 5kg. Actually, get under 82.5kg. I got under 14 stones in 2011, so under 13 stones (or 82.5kg in new money) in 2012 would be very nice. Bloody hard but very very nice.
  2. Climb at least 6 munro’s
  3. Cycle > 2000 miles
  4. Run a 10k
  5. Photography – get out and actually use my camera

I’ve a few work related goals as well but thats not for the blog. Key to the fitness related goals are getting into a more regular schedule to fit everything in – time will tell if that will be achievable but key is staying healthy. There’s a nice podcast on resolutions that might help you achieve them over the next 12 months – Back to Work #47: Utter Failure & Hotel Steak. Well worth a listen.

Ultimately though, I’m looking forward to a healthy and happy year for myself and family/friends…and of course you too whoever you are. Happy 2012!

First Run

I’ve had an itch for quite a while. An itch to run. Folk that know me will know I’m not built for running. Always been big and not got a great engine so running is a bit of a challenge. After the hill walks my legs take days to recover and going back to school days, sprints were fine but cross country was awful. Despite all that, I still wanted to give it ago.

I kept putting it off. I was scared…of failure, of running in public. Daft but when you’ve got something like that in your head it can be hard to shake. However, if I want to run a 10k at some point I have to start somewhere so today was the day. Looking at Google maps I planned a straightforward door to door run which would take over 3km. The results are below and in more detail at RunKeeper.

Main snag is that I live on the top of a small hill so whatever I do it will involve a hill of sorts. Kept the pace slow and it was going ok until the incline up Gt Western Road and the climb up Cleveden. I could feel a bit of stich coming on so had to stop. I walked up the hill and ran the last 200 metres. So overall not too bad.

However my legs did feel pretty sore afterwards despite the hill walking, cycling and badminton I do. The impact from running on the road is not to be ignored. The good news though is that I enjoyed the run so the current plan is to do the same route midweek and if that goes well (and assuming my legs feel good tomorrow) then I’ll pay a visit to Achilles Heel and sort out a more appropriate pair of running shoes that will help with the impact on the roads. I may also look into running offroad to help with the impact but baby steps for the moment.

Reason for doing this is twofold. I want to build up a bit more stamina and endurance and also help with the recovery after the hill walks. Secondly, it’s something different and it gets me outside and off the bike (which will still continue). Third (I did say two but who’s counting) is the inkling to run a 10k, maybe before the end of the year. Depends on lot’s of things but it’s good to have a goal when starting these things.

So more posts hopefully soon, even if it is to say my legs are buggered and I can’t go on! One final thing – it’s nice to be using RunKeeper for, you know, running!

Decision made

Cars. Not really my favourite subject. For whatever reason I’ve just never really got the bug. I love my gadgets and tech toys and I guess thankfully for my bank account, that love has never transferred to cars. Maybe it’s the fact that it sits in the street devaluing daily and at some point after buying a car some git will hit it with a door, or scratch it lightly as they pass by in a car park. Odd viewpoint I know, but it’s not changed in 14 years of driving and owning cars.

However, I did need to replace my Focus. It was 9 years old, I’d fell out of love with it a while ago and in my head I had to replace it. This wasn’t helped by a few fresh scratches from work recently that I hadn’t bothered fixing and a couple of bad pothole problems this year. Yes I would have got that no matter what car I had, but it still lead me to replacing sooner rather than later. But replace with what?

I set a budget and also decided that I would’t be buying new again. The Focus was my first new car and although it was great to get brand new and it felt like mine from day one, the amount I lost on just driving the car of the forecourt isn’t an experience I’d like to repeat…until the lottery win happens. Which it will. One day. Maybe. Onto the more tricky decision – what car to get? I picked up a few magazines, looked through hundreds of options, toured a few garages, test drove a couple of cars and ended up with…

Civic

A Honda Civic. It’s just over a year old so still has 20 months left on it’s warranty and it’s a 1.8 SI petrol edition. I love the interior – the dash is colourful and clear and there’s lots of nice little features inside that tick the boxes for me. It’s comfortable to drive and has plenty power to keep me happy. I also like the exterior styling – I know it’s not to everyone’s taste which is similar to the Focus in that amongst my friends they either loved it or hated it. Obviously I love it!

Civic

I bought the car from a garage in Edinburgh so the first actual drive back was interesting – torrential rain and the joys of the M8 but it was a pleasure compared to the Focus on the way through, but then it should be given the age difference. The ride is slightly harder than the Focus but the steering is more direct. There’s also some gamifaction on the dashboard – an eco rating to tell you how you are driving and when to change gears to optimise fuel usage.

Overall I’m delighted with it although I have only had it a few days now. Hopefully it lasts as well as the Focus did. One last geeky point that I like – it has a USB port and I can plug in the iPhone, and control navigation of the iPhone from the steering wheel. It’s the small things. Bliss.

88.8

88.8. A nice number but why is it blog worthy? For almost 4 years I’ve been trying to lose weight. The first 18 to 20 months saw my weight drop from almost 130kg down to 93kg. In 2010 my weight drifted slightly upwards and by the start of this year I was hovering around 97kg. I made a statement at the start of the year to take 5kg off this year but thanks to the Fitbit, doing a bit more on the bike and having some healthy competition with friends on RunKeeper I’ve shaved off more then 5. This morning I weighed 88.8kg.

So what you might say? Well convert that weight to stones and for the first time in probably 15 years I weigh less than 14 stones. Get in!!!! I’m pretty chuffed at getting to 13 stone something, even if the something is 13.8 pounds.

Still some way to go if I want my BMI to get below 25 and not be overweight. Current BMI is 27.3 and I need to lose another 18 lbs or in modern money a further 8.2kg. I think that will be a big ask although current weight loss would see me hit that weight at year end…but it’s getting harder and tougher to lose.

Small steady steps but overall that’s 6 and 1/2 stones in nearly 4 years. Happy days.