anarchist_nomad: (Default)
( Oct. 3rd, 2016 12:37 am)
Another collaboration meeting over. I am writing this entry whilst sitting in Haneda Airport and waiting for my flight from Tokyo to Beijing.

Beijing is just a stopover on my way back to Sunny Olde England. After a short stay at home in Sheffield, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I will be off to New York for the Sooper Sekrit Pagan Gathering... and then I will be on to Chicago for another meeting at Fermilab.

Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom all in the same week. (Plus a cameo in China.) I'm starting to get déjà vu here... because it all sounds a lot like this entry!

It has been two thousand four hundred fifty-six year -- nearly seven years -- but compare for yourself how similar things can be. Many things have changed... but I guess others stay the same.

Back then, I shared a photograph of the contents of my wallet. Six bills (or notes) -- none of which were the same -- representing the "coin of the realm" for three different countries. This time, my wallet had only five notes (or bills)... but, again, none were the same and the represented currency from three different countries.

Take a look for yourself:

January 2010

October 2016

Time to go through security and get ready to board. If any P**T***ns are reading this, I can't wait to see you next weekend!!!

ETA: By the way, that is indeed the brand new plastic five pound note that debuted less than three weeks ago. If you caught it, kudos for the sharp eyes!
anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Apr. 6th, 2016 10:41 am)
Back from Japan now. Had a lovely time viewing the sakura; pictures forthcoming.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Your Friendly Neighbourhood Nomad is 15,000 days old today! That's right, dear friends, fifteen thousand days ago -- right now -- yours truly was a crying newborn, just mere minutes old.

The Nomad Awesomemeter has been steadily ticking upwards since then, leading us to where we are today.

Whilst not without its bumpy stretches -- especially in the teenaged years -- the first fifteen thousand days were pretty darn good! Here's looking forward to exciting adventures in the next 15k!
Since it came up in conversation today, I retook the Political Compass test for the first time in many years.

Here is how I scored:

For comparison, I was able to find my results from December 2001, not long after the test debuted. I was wondering how my views have evolved with time. So... how does Nomad v.2015 compare with his past self from thirteen and a half years ago?


Interesting! I'm still lodged quite nicely in the bottom left corner of the compass. This is no surprise. But my economic views have moved even further to the left, nearly maxing out the scale. Meanwhile, my social views have become marginally more authoritarian. In fact, the shift on the two is almost equal in magnitude, if opposite in direction (-1.12 for the economic scale, +1.08 for the social scale).

Politically speaking, my two most signficant events of the past thirteen and a half years would be (a) my time as an activist, and (b) my experience as an expatriate and immigrant.

The December 2001 score was logged just as I was beginning to get active. I've been an Anarchist since at least age 17 (back in 1992), but I was only an activist from 2001 - 2007 -- with peak years from Feb 2002 to May 2006. So that's where I sat just before things ramped up.

Meanwhile, I'm sure that the shift in my social score was affected by answering "agree" with the statement that "First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country." Back then, I probably said "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree". Today, I said "Agree". I presume this question labels one as more socially conservative, as that tends to be the anti-immigrant faction of society. In my case, I'm not at all anti-immigrant -- I am an immigrant! But, being one, I know that I've not been able to fully integrate with my new country. Going from one English-speaking country to another, the transition was easier than most. Even so, I've been in the UK for nearly a decade, I've naturalised, I've taken up the English folk art of church bell ringing, I've seen more of England than most English people I know (and every Shakespeare play)... but I still stand out as a foreigner. Just two words out of my mouth and folks assume I'm "on holiday".

Last week alone, I had one person ask where I was visiting from (at an Oxford museum), another person who presumed I was moving to the States when I said we would soon be leaving Oxford (I'm not -- I'll be going up North to Sheffield), and a third person who spat at me in the street. Yeah, last week. (This week has had none of the above, but that's because I'm in Japan right now...)

So, yeah, not fully integrated yet. I'm seriously considering taking up elocution lessons, just so I can stop standing out like a sore thumb. Most people asking about where I'm visiting from are just being friendly. I don't blame any one person... but you sure get tired of explaining yourself over and over again, several times each week. Nevermind the accent, I'm British, thank you very much.

Anyway, I'm sure this made me seem more "socially conservative" and probably drove much of the shift in score. Although, given the circumstances, I would argue that being an immigrant has made me more aware of what we go through -- not less sensitive to it!

Meanwhile, it's nice to see that I haven't gotten to be more of a conservative right-winger with age!

ETA: Here is how I compare with the UK parties in last month's general election:

Is it any wonder, then, that I joined the Green Party?

Not on LJ much these days, but today needed to be noted:

First. Half. Marathon!

Oh, yeah!

I ran today in the Blenheim Palace Half-Marathon. I deliberately refrained from making any ambitious goals -- the main aim was to just finish the race, running 13.1 miles (or 21.1 km) for the very first time.

My secondary goal was to complete the course in under two hours... which I accomplished. My race time, as measured by RFID chip on my shoe, was 1:58:50 (or an average pace of 5:38 per kilometer).

Nothing to write home about, but not bad for a first-timer. I came in 727th place, out of 1566 runners. So at least I was in the faster half.

Um, that was surprisingly fun. I think I'll do it again.
After rolling out of bed and freshening up, I walked downstairs to buy food for breakfast. I live in the centre of Headington, one of the neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Oxford. This morning, I had set my alarm half an hour earlier than the usual seven o'clock, as I wanted to be present when Headington's newest grocery store opened. Indeed, as it turned out, I was the very first customer!

The new store is a Sainsbury's, the second largest chain of grocery and convenience stores in the United Kingdom[*]. Apparently, their new Headington shop is their 600th so-called "Sainsbury's Local" store. So everyone's favourite Nomad is Customer #1 at Sainsbury's #600. My inner numbers geek was suitably amused.

[*] Actualy, Headington is becoming overrun with supermarkets. When my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I moved there from Summertown (a north Oxford neighbourhood) in 2008, there were only two -- an Iceland (specialising in frozen foods) and a Co-op. We used the Co-op until a Waitrose opened a year later, and we have shopped there since. You would think that three supermarkets would be enough for one small neighbourhood, but apparently you would be mistaken. About three months ago, we got a Morrison's and, as of today, we now have a Sainsbury's. If five weren't bad enough, there will be a Tesco (the UK's largest chain) opening up in Headington later this year. There isn't enough business to sustain all six supermarkets; clearly the big players like Tesco and Sainsbury's are trying to force out the smaller ones. For that reason, this morning's purchase will likely be the only time that I shop at Sainsbury's; [ profile] cheshcat and I will continue to get our food at Waitrose.
anarchist_nomad: (Sunset over Key West)
( Jan. 11th, 2014 12:23 pm)
Dear friends, today is a very special day. Literally a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

For lack of a better term, today is my "halflife-versary" -- or merely "halflife" for short -- with my beloved [ profile] cheshcat.

Not familiar with the term? I'm not surprised, as I coined it myself. Allow me to explain:

My relationship with [ profile] cheshcat began on August 12th 1994. I was 7092 days old. Today is January 11th 2014, and my relationship with [ profile] cheshcat is 7092 days old. (Not coincidentally, I am now 14,184 days old) As you can see, today marks the day where I have been with my dearest life partner for half my life.

If you think about it, this is somewhat of a "lopsided" celebration. I mean, birthdays are clearly about one person -- the birthday "boy" or "girl" -- and relationship anniversaries are generally about a couple. This "halflife" anniversary involves elements of both. The relationship lasting 7092 days is an achievement of both [ profile] cheshcat and myself... but the "half my life" status is particular to just me.[*]

By the way: If you are aware of an existing term to describe such a day, gentle readers, do feel free to let me know. Otherwise, I am going to continue to use my own makeshift terminology, calling this my "halflife" celebration.

Today is a day that I have been looking forward to for several years, and it marks a significant milestone. After all, from here on, I have spent more of my life in a relationship with [ profile] cheshcat than not. Not quite sure how to express that transition in words, but it feels like a Big DealTM to me.

This is also an achievement that I am rather proud of. It is not unheard of by any means, and I know others who have achieved the same. But not many others. And especially not many who passed this point whilst still in their thirties. So yay for us! Huzzah!

To celebrate, [ profile] cheshcat and I will be heading into London for dinner in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall, followed by a performance of Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam".

Thus, I will sign off now to spend the rest of the day with the aforementioned [ profile] cheshcat. I wish all of my dear friends a very lovely Saturday!

[*] We will have a different halflife celebration in a couple of years when we reach the point where we have been together for half of [ profile] cheshcat's life.
anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Nov. 9th, 2013 01:47 pm)
Gentle readers, I realise that my recent posts have all been about running. For this, I apologise, as I also realise that the vast majority of you[*] have no interest in running.

That said, dear friends, I am about to make another post about running. So do feel free to skip this one, if so inclined. I will write about something else soon, I promise. For the moment, however, LJ serves as a useful place for archiving some running milestones.

Right. That said, for posterity and the few who are still with me, here goes:

One year ago today,[**] I ran in my first race, an Oxford Parkrun. Parkruns are nifty things -- many places around the UK have these weekly 5K runs in a local park. I approve.

At the time, I was a recent Couch-to-5K graduate and just eager to finish the course, hopefully not coming in last as an added bonus. In the span of five weeks, I did a total of four Parkruns[***]. My times for those four runs were as follows:
  • 2012-Nov-10: 34' 44"
  • 2012-Nov-17: 30' 59"
  • 2012-Dec-01: 29' 38"
  • 2012-Dec-08: 28' 36"

Then the December holidays kicked in and, after the new year began, I started the Bridge-to-10K programme. The 5K Parkruns were put on hold during my 10K training and, until today, I never went back. I must confess that this is partially due to laziness on my part -- I finished Bridge-to-10K months ago, but did not return to the Parkruns. Either I was away from Oxford on travels -- a common occurrence in the Summer months -- or simply preferred to sleep in on my Saturday mornings!

Anyway, that brings us to the present. Knowing it was the one year anniversary of my first Parkrun, I made an extra effort to drag my arse out of bed at 08:00 and be at Cutteslowe & Sunnymead Park with ample time before the run began at 09:00.

As always, I set goals for the run. Last year, for my first Parkrun, the goals were pretty basic: (a) finish the course, (b) don't be last, and (c) don't take more than twice as long as the person who comes in first. Simple goals, but at least I met them all.

For today, I knew that I wanted a new personal best (PB). After all, it has been eleven months! All that training should be good for something. I wanted more than that, though. Last month, <a href=">I finished the Rotary Blenhein 10K in 52:48. Surely, I could finish a 5K in half that time, which would be 26:24. Still, not good enough.

As odd as it now sounds to me[****], a 5K run is a pretty short distance. I now run for 60 minutes, covering distances greater than 10K, two or three times each week. With far less ground to cover, there is also far less need to strictly pace one's self. So beating my 2012 Parkrun PB of 28:36 wouldn't be good enough; nor would the 26:24 of half my 10K time suffice. For today, I decided to see if I could run 5K in under 25 minutes, which would be a sustained average of under five minutes per kilometer.

What this means is that, for most of the 5K run, I was pushing myself as hard as I could. Not much "saving a bit for later", as there wouldn't be much later to save for. I was huffing and puffing as I went, and it felt a lot like the early days of Couch-to-5K when I often felt like I would keel over before the running interval -- all of 60 seconds -- was through. I was rather relieved when I crossed the finish line and could finally stop! The only question remaining, of course, was: "Did I do it??"

Several hours later, my legs still ache. However, it was worth it. My friends, I am very pleased to report that your friendly neighbourhood Nomad succeeded! A little while ago, I received the text with my official results for this morning's run: I finished in 46th place (out of 115 runners), with a time of 24:45.

Very nice! Okay, I'm not likely to break world records anytime soon... but, still: Very nice!

I achieved my goal, averaging 4:57 per kilometer (or, if you prefer 7:58 per mile). This is the first time that I have completed a sustained run in under 5 minutes per kilometer (or, if you prefer, under 8 minutes per mile). My best recorded 10K was only at a 5:14 pace. Also, to be quite fair, I know that I couldn't maintain this speed for a 10K right now -- it was only possible because of the short distance involved. Even so, it feels pretty good to have solidly broken through the 5 minute barrier!

Looking back, one year ago[**], I completed my first Parkrun in 34:44; today I did it in 24:45. That's an improvement of nearly ten minutes[*****], or over 40%, in a year. Not too shabby! Okay, to be fair, the first 12% came almost immediately, when I bought proper running shoes to celebrate my first Parkrun. But the remaining 28% increase in my speed from last year has come purely from hard work and training. If I dare indulge in a moment of self-congratulations: Go me!

If there are any of you left still reading this post, I thank you for your patience. Next entry will not be about running, I promise! That said, I'm sure that there will be other running posts in the future, so I really should get an appropriate icon. (Heck, while I'm at it, I could do with an icon of myself where I'm not overweight!)

Meanwhile, have a great Saturday, gentle readers!

[*] Those few of us still on LJ, that is.

[**] Well, fifty-two weeks ago, anyway.

[***] Skipping one because I was speaking at Oxford University's annual Cosmology Day.

[****] And would sound even odder to the me of a year and a half ago!

[*****] Well, nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Ah, if only I had come in one second sooner! That would have been an added bonus, to be an even ten minutes under last year's time! Oh well.

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 6th, 2013 09:46 am)
As a quick follow-up to yesterday's entry on my first 10K race, I should note that this Sunday will be one year since I ran in my first 5K race: an Oxford ParkRun.

At the time, my goals were rather modest: (a) Finish the course, (b) Don't be last, and (c) Don't take more than twice as long as the fastest runner. Indeed, I was able to meet all three of these simple goals, coming in 81st out of 85 runners with a 5K time of 34:44.

Just for fun, I was re-reading the LJ write-up of that milestone. I found it interesting to note that, at the time, I said:
"I neither need nor expect to win these races [...] but it would be nice to come in around the middle of the pack, rather than all the way out on the tail end."

Huh. Well, then. I had forgotten writing that. Looks like this is precisely what I achieved in the Rotary Blenheim 10K Run, as my 52:48 time ranked me as the median male runner (86th place out of 170 men in the race).

I realise that it's a bit odd to be pleased at being average. Even so, realising that one has achieved a forgotten goal was a nice little bonus for my morning -- thank you, LJ!

anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Oct. 25th, 2013 12:50 am)
Haven't spend much time on LJ of late -- mea culpa, my friends! Methinks tis a combination of being very busy with other hobbies and the general relaxed atmosphere around here now that the tumbleweed is rolling down the corridors. Still, the lack of posting means I'm part of the problem; I count this as only my third entry for this month.

What's worse is that this isn't going to be a particularly exciting entry, either.
With Samhain coming, I've been doing some introspection... mainly thinking back on where I am now compared to recent years at this time.

As it turns out, one year ago today was the Big One at the Event Horizon. After weeks of packing, we got the moving truck and cleaned it all out. Oy -- what a month last October was! Hard to believe it has been a year already!

Two years ago today, I got Wally -- my current car. In the past two years, I have driven him 19,356 miles, and spent £2916.23 on diesel fuel. Adjusting for the fact that he was purchased empty and is now full, I have spent £2852.23 to drive those miles -- covering 6.8 miles per pound sterling (or, if you like, spent 14.7p per mile driven). My fuel efficiency is pretty good -- 9.6 miles per liter (or 36.5 miles per US gallon) -- but the cost of fuel here is much higher than what folks back in the States are used to. On average, I have paid £1.42 per liter... which, at today's exchange rates, works out to about $8.71 per US gallon. When Stateside people complain about the supposedly high cost of fuel, I point out that I would love to pay those prices. Four bucks a gallon would be delightful!

What else is going on when I compare now to previous Octobers?

I have now been in the same job for five years. In a time of great funding uncertainty in my field, this is not something that one can take for granted. So, yes, job stability is a good thing. Huzzah!

I have now been in the same serious UK-based relationship for nearly four years.[*] Four years ago right now, my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth and I were engaged in our pre-relationship flirting, which would last for several weeks. I was thrilled that so many of you were able to meet her earlier this month at the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival! Hooray!

I have now been in the same flat for three years. Chiron Beta Prime is an improvement over the Flat With No Name in every possible way. Tis both bigger and more affordable. Yay!

And, as mentioned above, I have now owned the same car for two years. Wally has been rather reliable in that time, giving us nearly no problems whatsoever. Other than typical maintenance work -- replace the tyres, replace the brake pads -- he has needed to special care at all. Wahoo!

So, yes, many of the core aspects of my life -- relationships, job, home, car -- have all been very stable of late. This is a Good Thing. Not throwing boatloads of energy at job hunting... or relationship drama... or moving... well, it frees up that time and energy for doing things that I enjoy. Like travel... or bell ringing... or running... or theatre... or gaming... or swimming... Is good.

Thus, my dear friends, as Samhain approaches and the Dark Half of the Wheel settles in, I find myself feeling remarkable serene this year. May kick myself if I come back to re-read this in February, when I am well and truly sick & tired of the long dark nights this far North. But for now, gentle readers? Well, life is good!

[*] And, of course, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I are in our twentieth year together... which is also super-awesome!

Two recent numbers of significance worth noting here:

First, on my most recent run -- earlier this week -- I passed the 11 km mark for the first time.

These days, my standard running workout is a five minute warm-up walk, followed by a sixty minute run, then ending with a five minute cool-down walk. When the workout is over, the running app that I use reports an average pace for each of those three parts; I ignore the walking segments but use the data for the run to work out how far I went. Previously, my best record was 5:32 per kilometer (or, if you prefer, 8:54 per mile) -- set on the 5th of August. That works out to a 10.84 kilometer run (or 6.74 miles).

When I was new to running last year, I used the NHS Couch-to-5K podcast series. The narrator, Laura, frequently reminds us that some runs will be better than others, often without clearly identifiable reason. (She also points out that a bad run is still better than no run at all -- helpful advice!) Well, I'm not sure why... but my most recent run -- the day before yesterday -- turned out to be a very good run! That was evident early on, as I just felt "in the groove" and the distance reports every five minutes were impressive, compared to my normal pace. I knew if I pushed on, I could likely set a new record... and thought I even had a chance of squeaking past the 11 km mark for the first time.

Turns out, I was doing better than I thought -- my average pace for the hour worked out to 5:19 per kilometer (or 8:33 per mile)! That's 11.28 km -- well past the 11K mark! Tis also well beyond the record set eight days earlier! Measuring in Imperial units, I ran 7.01 miles -- just barely passing the seven mile marker for the first time! As the title to this post mentions, this was indeed a literal milestone for my progress as a runner. Go me!

Next, we get more figurative. On Monday -- August 12th -- my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I celebrated our 19th anniversary! Go us!

We celebrated by spending a three day weekend in London[*]. Not long ago, right here on LJ, [ profile] acelightning had a discussion about travel, in which we noted that there are often opportunities to see interesting things without going far from home. For our anniversary this year, [ profile] cheshcat and I decided to do just that. Next year, for the big TWO-OH, we are planning a two week cruise -- either to Scandinavia or the Mediterranean -- so this year we decided to stay nearby and finally see some of the many things in London that we've been putting off for years because, after all, we can go anytime!

The idea was good, and our weekend was delightful -- we finally visited Westminster Abbey (seeing the graves of Newton and Dirac!), we caught a West End show, we indulged my passion for tall buildings by going up to the viewing platform at the Shard, and more. Hopefully, I can find time for a detailed entry -- with pics, of course! -- before heading out for Moscow next week! Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, dear friends, I will share one shot from the weekend. Just because. The picture below was taken at Kensington Palace. Construction on this palace began in 1689, on the orders of William & Mary; the motivation was to construct a royal residence closer to London than either Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Castle... but further from the polluted air of the city than Whitehall Palace, which used to sit on the banks of the Thames -- William III was asthmatic and couldn't breathe well whilst at Whitehall.

Over the centuries, Kensington Palace has been home to a great many royals. Princess Di lived there, as did the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret. It is also where Queen Victoria was born and where she grew up. The picture below was taken in the so-called "Red Saloon" room at Kensington Palace, which is the room where Victoria held her first privy council on the morning where she became queen. We heard an excellent lecture in the room, and there were also costumes available for folks to play "dress-up". A common tourist attraction, I don't usually succumb... but I thought this jacket was just too good to pass up! Take a look at the pic itself (try to ignore the fact that I'm wearing shorts and sandals underneath!) and tell me if you agree:

(click for full-sized version)

Oddly enough, whilst [ profile] cheshcat was taking this picture, one person thought I was a statue in the exhibit! He was visibly startled when the photo had been shot and I started moving and talking -- go figure!

Anyway, a very happy anniversary was had by us! Yay for nineteen years... and yay for the next nineteen years, too!

[*] Many thanks to my sweet [ profile] miss_amaranth for looking in on our darling kitties whilst we were away. And even more thanks for the lovely card and flowers, set up to make for a wonderful surprise when we got home!

Hello, gentle readers! Happy Thursday to you!

The title of this post says it all, really. Today, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad is two thousand weeks old. Huzzah! Happy millemanae to me![*]

Oddly enough, despite being known as the Knave of Numbers, I didn't plan this one out in advance. Yesterday morning, whilst in the shower, I was thinking about how my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I will soon be celebrating our 1000 weekiversary -- something I worked out last year and have been planning for. That led me to thinking about how, in six more months, [ profile] cheshcat and I will celebrating being together for half my life. That one has been on our radar for years -- we already have Cirque du Soleil tickets and dinner reservations for the day!

Well, after thinking about these two upcoming days of significance -- and putting some conditioner in my voluminous hair -- some basic algebraic truths suddenly dawned on me: If we are soon to celebrate 1000 weeks together and, not long after, celebrate being together half my life..... well, then I must be turning 2000 weeks old soon. Or perhaps have done so recently!

A little later, out of the shower, I picked up what passes for Ye Olde Pocket Calculator these days and did the math(s). As it turned out, my calculations revealed that I would turn 2000 weeks old tomorrow! Of course, since I worked this out yesterday, tomorrow is today... and, dear readers, today we can celebrate 2000 weeks of everybody's favourite Nomad! Hooray!

Have to say, it's been a very interesting and exciting couple of thousand weeks! Looking forward to seeing what the next couple thousand will bring...

[*] To the best of my knowledge, there is no word to refer to a one thousand week block of time. Of course, a one thousand year block of time is a millennium, coming from the Latin mille (for thousand) and annus (for year). Thus, by way of similar construction, I give you the newly coined "millemanae" -- joining mille with the late Latin septimanae (for week). A bonus of this particular construction is that "millemanae" sounds somewhat like "Mahna Mahna" -- always a plus!

Reached the final week of the Bridge-to-10K programme today. After various intervals during the first five weeks (e.g., 10 minutes x4, or 15 minutes x3, or 25 minutes x2), Week 6 is pretty straightforward -- it's a single, continuous, 60 minute run.

Having trained properly for this, I knew that I could do it. Even so, I was mildly trepidatious as I set out for the run. After all, my longest continuous run had only been 35 minutes; although I have covered a full sixty minutes before, it was in running intervals that added up to an hour, not one continuous run.

That said, it all went rather well, and I am quite happy to have finally become a true 10K runner. Actually, I managed to cover 10.5 km in those 60 minutes. This is a little on the slow side, compared to recent runs, where I averaged 10.8 ± 0.3 km/hour. Not too surprised, though, as I had to pace myself a bit more, knowing that there would be no walking break to use for recovery.

In any case, my goal was to reach 10 km in the hour, and this was met. In fact, I covered precisely half of a half marathon... so I should be on track to do the half marathon in two hours when I eventually set my sights on that goal.

For now, however, there are other goals to see to first. The most immediate goal is finishing the Bridge-to-10K plan this week, which involves two more runs like the one that I did today. Next will be a straight 10km run, which I will time to see how fast I can do that specific distance. Given today's time, I expect 10km will take me about 57 minutes. Then I will keep the distance the same and work on improving my speed. Finally, around August or Autumn, I will be adding cycling to the exercise rota -- currently consisting of just swimming and running -- to get prepared for that Olympic distance triathlon! After all, the goal of completing an Olympic triathlon is why I took up running in the first place, via Couch-to-5K and Bridge-to-10K.

Once my first Olympic triathlon is completed, probably sometime early next year, I will set my sights on the half-marathon. Should be exciting!

ETA: In a way, this is all very hard to believe. When I started on Couch-to-5K last year, it was a serious struggle to get through 60 seconds of running before the next walking break would kick in. Now I can go for 60 minutes of continuous running. Honestly, that's pretty darn amazing! Kudos to the clever people who worked out such training plans!

I owe the world -- and you, gentle readers -- several real posts. But this one is topical and loses all meaning if not done now. Er, not that it has much meaning to anyone who isn't as big a numbers geek as I am.

I filled Wally, our 2003 red Rover, with diesel fuel this afternoon. Of itself, this is quite ordinary and not the least bit interesting. However, when entering the expense on the spreadsheet that I use to track fuel consumption, I noticed that today's purchase had put us just over the £2000 mark for fuel put into Wally since we bought him in October 2011[*].

Since I am indeed a numbers geek, I decided to check how many days it had taken us to reach this mark.[**] Out came the trusty calculator and, after a few seconds, I had my answer. We bought Wally 500 days ago, exactly.

I see then. We have spent a touch over £2000 in 500 days on diesel. Thus, when rounded to the nearest penny, the daily fuel cost of our household is £4.00 even. Nice!

(Actually, since it costs about 15p per mile that I drive, I can further estimate that we drive about 26 - 27 miles per day. This is the mean, of course, and there is a rather wide spread. But still, tis nice to know...)

Right. We now return you to your regularly scheduled evening, dear friends. Hopefully more interesting posts will follow soon...

[*] Given the bevy problems that we experienced with Peter, our previous red Rover, I am delighted to say that we have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever with Wally in the nearly seventeen months since we brought him home.

[**] I was going to say "milestone", but that really isn't the right word here, is it?

anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Dec. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm)
Today is the birthday of the ever-wonderful [ profile] cheshcat!!! Go forth and share birthday wishes with Her Awesomeness via e-mail or phone or by leaving a comment in her LJ!

Being true to the "cat" part of [ profile] cheshcat, my beloved Chesh likes to reckon her age in cat years. By that token, today she turns seven! Huzzah!

Tis also worth noting that today is 12/12/12 -- the last triple day left in this century! Last month, some of us were chatting about date formats. The US-Americans like to use MM/DD/YY, the Europeans use DD/MM/YY, and the Japanese prefer YY/MM/DD. Today, my friends, it matters not which one you like best -- use them all, for they are one and the same!

(Unless, of course, you prefer the Japanese Imperial system, in which the year is counted from the time that the current Emperor ascended to the throne. In which case, today would be 24/12/12. It would still be [ profile] cheshcat's birthday, though.)

anarchist_nomad: (The Eyes Have It)
( Nov. 30th, 2012 01:11 am)

Just got back from tonight's run, where a major milestone was accomplished!

Although the Couch-to-5K programme calls itself "Couch-to-5K", it is really about getting people running thirty minutes at a time. During the nine week plan, they really do not focus on speed at all. Consequently, many graduates -- myself included -- are not actually running 5km by the time they finish the plan. Around the time of my graduation, I was covering only about 4.35 km in the thirty minutes. That's an average speed of 8.6 - 8.7 km/hour.

As such, there are really three different graduations. The first is the official one, at the end of Week 9. The second graduation usually comes soon after, when you first run a full 5km. I did that four weeks ago tonight, about two weeks after graduating the programme. It took me 34 minutes and 27 seconds -- again, an average speed of about 8.7 km/hour.

To run 5km in thirty minutes, you must maintain an average speed of 10 km/hour. During the past four weeks since my first true 5K run, I invested in proper running shoes. I have continued to run three times per week, and I have started using the 5K+ series of podcasts, designed for graduates of the plan. Of the three 5K+ podcasts, I have used "Stepping Stone" several times and started using the "Speed" podcast (which is a short run employing interval training) on Monday.

Tonight, four weeks after my second graduation, I made it to my third and final goal -- running 5km in under 30 minutes! Tonight's run clocked in at 29' 11" so it wasn't even close! Huzzah!

That's an average speed of 10.28 km/hour (or 6.39 mph). Not bad for a guy who found sixty seconds of light jogging to be a challenge just a few months ago! You can imagine just how very chuffed I am right now!

There is a full write-up of this accomplishment on the Couch-to-5K community here:

I plan to spend December consolidating my gains and perhaps improving my speed just a little more. Then, in 2013, I will be starting the "Bridge-to-10K" plan to work on doubling my distance. Should be fun!
Holy macaroni! The new running shoes I bought last week are amazing! I ran in another Oxford ParkRun 5km race this morning... and my speed was 12% faster than it was last week, in the old worn-out shoes I have been training in. Wowza! All this from a new pair of shoes??

Based only on these two data points, one could say that these conclusions are weak and there could be other fluctuations at play. However, even before last week's race, I had been timing my pace whilst training. My run time has been very consistent, and last week's ParkRun was not significantly different than what I had measured on my own. Thus, I think it reasonable to attribute this sudden increase in speed to having proper running shoes now.

Although one can always get faster, my immediate speed goal was to increase by 14 - 15%. This unexpected jump means I'm nearly there! Another 3% and I'm where I wanted to be... at which point I start thinking about going further, rather than faster, and looking ahead to my 10K training.
anarchist_nomad: (Still me... but wearing a funny hat)
( Nov. 10th, 2012 03:26 pm)
In other news, today is 10/11/12, according to the date formatting used here in the United Kingdom (day/month/year). Makes today feel somewhat, ah, sequential, doesn't it?

Of course, in the United States, the standard date format is month/day/year, so 10/11/12 happened nearly a month ago, on October 11th. Nifty thing is, I was in the States last month for 10/11/12 there... and am in England now for 10/11/12 here! Guess it's hard to get too much of a good thing.

On the other hand, the Japanese use a more sensible ordering than either of those two date formats; they write out the date as year/month/day. Thus 10/11/12 happened there on nearly two years ago, on November 12th 2010. Wasn't there at the time, which is a shame. Ah well.
anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Nov. 2nd, 2012 06:18 pm)
I have been back in Merry Olde England for roughly one week now.[*] I am sure that you are all wondering: "What has your friendly neighbourhood Nomad been up to in that time?"

Gentle readers, here is your answer, by the numbers:

  • 5) Ringing practices (counting tonight's, which is in an hour)

  • 4) Nights spent with my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth

  • 4) Days gone to work (2 in London, 2 at the Rutherford lab)

  • 4) Cats hissing and growling in Chiron Beta Prime

  • 3) Visits to Heathrow Airport

  • 3) Runs (30 minutes or 5 km)

  • 3) Swims (2000 meters)

  • 2) Theatre trips (Our Country's Good, and The Handyman -- both at the Oxford Playhouse)

  • 1) Birthday party (for [ profile] ayaron)

All in all, not a bad week. Despite the encroaching darkness, tis good to be back![**]

[*] We are still about five hours shy of the one week mark, but what's five hours between friends?

[**] One of the nifty things about having two homes was that it was good to be back, whichever way one was travelling across the pond!

Somehow, September has arrived. Hello, Autumn. Two weeks from right now, I will be on a flight to Japan, for our next collaboration meeting. Four weeks from tomorrow, I will be on a flight to the States, getting ready to attend my sixteenth consecutive Sooper Sekrit Pagan Festival![*]

The start of September also means that our lease on Chiron Beta Prima just renewed for another year. I've always found it odd to own two houses in the States... but rent an flat for our primary residence.

Since we will be staying in CBP for another year, it is on track to be our longest occupied home since moving to Merry Olde England. We were in Skullcrusher Mountain for twenty-eight months, and we were in the Flat With No Name for twenty-four months. We have been in Chiron Beta Prime since the start of November 2010, which makes for twenty-two months thus far. Not yet the record -- indeed, still third out of three -- but by the end of our new one year lease, it will have risen to the top.

Indeed, the new lease also means that 2012 looks to be a very stable year for my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and myself. Looking back over the six and a half years that we have lived in Oxford, it seems like every year brings either a new flat or a new car:
  • 2006: New flat! (also, first flat, as we had just arrived!)
  • 2007: New car! (also, first car in the UK)
  • 2008: New car and new flat! (plus new cat, but that's another story)
  • 2009: Neither new car nor new flat -- needed a rest after replacing both in 2008!
  • 2010: New flat!
  • 2011: New car!

As you can see, gentle readers, on average we replace either our car or our flat each year. We are currently on Car #3 and Flat #3. This is not quite as unstable as our friends D&J, who moved to London three months before we moved to Oxford; they get a new flat every March[**] and have their annual housewarming party every September.

Even so, a bit more stability would be welcome. It looks like we will not be moving in 2012; hopefully, the car that we bought last year will last out the year as well. Given that it is far more reliable than its predecessor, things on that front are looking good!

[*] Hooray!

[**] Except for 2011, which was anomalous.

anarchist_nomad: (Under the sea... in Hawaii!)
( Aug. 25th, 2012 10:40 pm)
Also worth noting:

Tonight, in the Barton Pool, I set a new personal distance record. I swam 100 lengths of the pool, for a total of 2500 meters.[*] My usual workout is 1600 meters, or one mile, but tonight I felt like pushing for a bit extra. My previous distance record was about 2135 meters, set many years ago when I was an undergraduate.

It took me about 66 minutes to cover 100 lengths, meaning that I kept up my usual speed of one and a half lengths per minute. This corresponds to an aquatic speed of about 1.4 [non-nautical] miles per hour.

Interestingly, I didn't feel particularly tired when I had completed the challenge that I had set out for myself. Methinks I may increase my standard workout from 1600 meters to 2000 meters.

[*] I write this in full knowledge that this is in no way an impressive accomplishment on any absolute scale. Nor am I under and delusions that this may interest my dear readers. Nonetheless, I am recording it here, to refer back to later, if needed.



anarchist_nomad: (Default)


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