Archive for the 'Personal' Category

On jogging

July 24th, 2007

For the past few weeks I have been trying something that I’ve never done before in my life – jogging every day.1

All through High School I was always the least enthusiastic about the annual cross country, greatly preferring sports that required a bit less in the way of actual physical exertion. And ever since university I’ve always tended to default towards cycling as my form of exercise.

This even worked pretty well for the first bit of my working life, especially when I lived around a 20-25 minute cycle away from work. The cycle to and from work kept me fit and healthy, and didn’t take too much of my life.

But then I moved closer to work, which meant that I spent more time changing and showering than actually cycling, which kind of defated the point, and then I moved far enough away that cycling to work was no longer an option anyway.

Which was, needless to say, not that great for my health and fitness levels.

So I found that I needed some form of exercise that I could do in relatively small bursts, was efficient in terms of the amount of fitness and calorie burning the 30 minutes or so I could afford each day could provide, and didn’t require a lot of overhead in terms of preparing equipment.

This lead, fairly inexorably to the depressing realisation that the long-loathed jogging might have to be the way forward.2

As with all the things I do, I was aided in my quest by high tech gadgets: in this case, the Nike+iPod kit that gives you information on running speed and distance. So I can tell you that after 12 goes out, I’ve run a total of 26km, my quickest kilometer was 5:30, and I’m rapidly closing in on the fabled 10-minute mile…

All pretty mundane, but underneath all the gadgets, and the not inconsiderable discomfort as long forgotten muscles are called back into action, I’ve realised something – I don’t actually hate jogging as much as I thought. And perhaps, one day, once the puffing and stabbing pains in the calf have gone away, I could actually enjoy this.

Although for now, I’m still focused on getting that 10 minute mile.

  1. Of course, I did miss about a week due to the recent cold snap… 

  2. No apologies for the pun. 


June 17th, 2007

Helen and I travelled to Melbourne last weekend for a quick holiday weekend. A few highlights…

Firstly, I really enjoy the architecture in Melbourne. I never quite managed to get a photo of the RMIT campus near our hotel, but I was quite taken with this skyscraper:

Melbourne Skyscraper

First day we mainly spent going to see Melbourne Zoo. Overall I think I prefer Taronga: better location, better designed zoo, and better range of animals (especially Penguins!). But two exhibits really stood out. Firstly, there’s a relatively new section for apes which is very nicely designed. The paths are all rough formed, feeling a lot more like jungle paths. Plus they had a really nice looking gorilla.

Gorilla Melbourne Zoo

The other big new thing is the elephant exhibit. I’ve only seen the Taronga version without elephants installed, but I’d have to say that if I was an Elephant I’d want to be in Melbourne! A lot more room to move, better designed enclosure.

Elephant Melbourne Zoo

One final favourite is the Butterfly house. First, it’s great to just walk through a mist of butterflies. And also, it’s heated to 30 degrees during the day, nice and warm!

Butterflies Melbourne Zoo

Helen’s highlight, as always, is the platypus. Here she is with the platypus statue outside the enclosure.

Helen and Platypus

The rest of the first day we went to see Spiderman 3 at the Imax at the Melbourne Museum. I’ve been to see a couple of Imax films before, but both films designed for Imax. It was interesting to see a film that wasn’t really designed for it on the really really really big screen. The film itself: meh!

Saturday we had breakfast at the Queen Victoria Markets (also next to the hotel), and then wandered around shops for several hours. In the evening we went to see Miss Saigon, the main reason for the trip. Great show, which I’d only heard on CD before. Overall the acting and singing was good, not great (although a couple of individual performers were great). The staging was really creative, doing a lot with what is quite a cramped stage.

Sunday we went down to the National Gallery of Victoria, which neither of us have been to see in years.

Foyer National Gallery Victoria

I think the NGV has a very interesting modern art collection, as well as some very nice classical pieces. It’s certainly a collection that gives the National Gallery of Australia a run for its money. One of the works that I quite enjoyed from the modern section:

Art National Gallery Victoria

Then we dropped by Federation Square. Had a quick look through the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, but it was very disappointing (between exhibits at the moment). There was the new annex for the National Gallery of Victoria, but we just couldn’t be bothered by that point – sore feet, too much art…

Federation Square Melbourne

So we dropped by the shops a little more, and then went to see Pirates of the Carribean 3 (also a ‘meh’). Then back to the hotel, one more night of sleep and then back to Canberra.

Evil Skyscraper

I love Melbourne, it’s a beautiful city. It’s pretty much the only place other than Canberra I could ever see myself living for an extended period.

Where can I find about 5 hours free time per day

May 15th, 2007

It’s pretty embarrassing exactly how long it takes me to collapsed on my periodic insistence that I’ll begin to post to this weblog properly…

So, sorry everyone (if there is indeed anyone left)! The excuses are many and varied, mainly due to a recent increase in the quantity and tempo of work. I’m going to not offer any further promises about actually updating this site regularly.

But all this just bought home to me how difficult it is to fit everything into your day…

To start with, I like about 9 hours sleep a day. That’s probably a little more than I need, but it makes me a happier person so I go with it. I suspect that if I got my fitness a little higher I would be able to make do with a little less. Then there’s work (10 hours a day on average, including lunch), commuting (about an hour, counting walks to/from the car park), dressing/showering/etc (maybe half an hour?) and dinner (about 30-45 mins depending on what I’m cooking). So that’s 21 hours of my day gone. That leaves me just three hours for everything else.

The list of ‘everything else’ includes spending time with my lovely wife, watching TV, getting exercise, posting to the blog, designing websites, playing with my kitten, cleaning the house, and reading books. Just as a start. I’m normally lucky if I can get more than a couple of those done on any given night.

Weekends aren’t a lot better either…

So what I really need is another 4-5 hours a day. That should just about give me time to fit everything in. The only block of time which that can really come from is the sleep. So this brings me to the question: if someone could design a safe, legal, side effect free pill that would allow you to have only 4 hours sleep a night, would you take it? And how much would you pay for it?

I think I would. And I think I’d pay a fair bit. And I might even actually update this thing more than once a month…

Getting organised

March 13th, 2007

I have, just recently, become something of a devotee (albeit one with a bit of practice needed yet) of David Allen‘s “Getting Things Done” method. What I like about it is that, unlike most of the Stephen Covey like approaches to organising your life, it can cope with the kind of ‘creative chaos’ that most information workers live in.

(As an aside, I’m not sure I like the ‘information worker’ label – kind of makes it sound like it’s an IT thing, when it really should apply to a lot of professionals)

I’ve tried doing the ‘to do’ list thing in the past, but normally end up with a complete breakdown within a couple of days. The problem is that the systems don’t cope with the things that just come along. And I can’t remember a day I’ve had recently where I finished the day without having at least half a dozen things come up. The Getting Things Done (GTD) approach actually embraces this, and is actually built around an approach of continuously reviewing the tasks that are coming in.

It’s probably not something that works for everyone, but if you’re interested in looking for a new system with a bit more flexibility than most of the popular systems, it’s well worth a look. The book (“How To Get Things Done”) can be found fairly easily in Australia, or ordered off Amazon.

Perth has no taxis

March 2nd, 2007

Just back from a couple of days in Perth for work. This is my second trip to Perth, and the first time that I’ve had a little bit of time to look around. I had to travel down to Mandurah (about an hour south of Perth), and got to have a look around Rockingham and Fremantle on the way down. Some very nice scenery on the way (along with a fair bit of ugly infrastructure for wheat exports and other ports).

However, my overwhelming impression of Perth is that there must be about five taxis. For the whole city! Walking down the main street in the middle of the day we walked for 15 minutes without a single free taxi coming along. In which time, in fact, we’d reached our destination. It’s the whole mining boom in a microcosm.

However, after 6 meetings on one day (with Tuesday finishing at 7pm) I’m pretty tired. Still, I’ve pretty much finished the write up work from the trip and can now relax and write posts for the blog.

Papercraft Christmas

January 17th, 2007

One of my christmas presents this year was this a papercraft penguin. This weekend just past I found the couple of hours to make the thing, and here it is, looming from the bookshelf in my home office.

Paper Penguin 1

Some more pictures after the cut. This thing is huge: 53cm tall.

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