Monday, February 21, 2011

In the money! (For travel insurance...)

I won some money last week. Not a lot. Not a lot at all actually. Just £25 quid. About enough to cover the standard stuff in life – some travel insurance, a week's tube fare (almost), some beers…that sort of thing.

Winning the money was great, unexpected, a surprise, a nice cold-winter's night treat. Yet, winning just £25 felt bad in some ways. So little when it could have been so much. Why are we humans wired in this way?

Shouldn't any money we gain unexpectedly be greeted with glee? Find a tenner on the floor and you've a spring in your step for many an hour. Yet nothing is spent as recklessly as found or won money.

It's unreal, unvalued, free to be frittered away on fripperies. But if it’s your own money, well, then any purchase has to be considered for its value and only parted with after due deliberation – well, perhaps not quite this level of thought, but you get my point.

It's like at Christmas when your elderly relatives give you a crisp £20 or a cheque. I always feel a sense of duty to spend it on something rather than wasting it on nothing. Sticking it in the wallet causes it to become just another note, for beer or lunch during the working week.

Keeping it separate on the side, though, makes it mean something – that it should be spent on something I want or need – books, clothes, travel insurance, whatever, so I can tell the person who gave it to me that it went on something specific, tangible, worthwhile.

That's why I always ask for vouchers. That way, you have to get something good from that shop – perfect solution.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The sun, sunworshippers and holidays to Spain

It's on a day like today when the sky was a perfect blue and the sun is shining brightly for the first time since who knows when that the idea of getting a westbound Piccadilly line to Heathrow and getting flights to Lanzarote or numerous other sunny climates really starts to appeal.

The first glimpse of spring sunshine at university was always met with a plethora of barbeques, sunglasses and flipflops, which being Wales usually meant a sudden shower drenching all and sundry.

The history of humanity has be governed by the sun – from the sunworshippers who welcomed each day the great sun god returned with glee to us modern 21st century dwellers who, while spending the entire winter in warm caves lit by electric bulbs and surrounded by gadgets galore, dream of the sun, beaches and gently lapping waves to pass the darkness.

Even in such an advanced age nothing lifts the human spirit more than the sight of pure, undistorted sunlight entering windows, reflecting on glass and other nice descriptions of things the sun does to the Earth.

I’ve always liked the idea that the sun is 93 million miles away, so it takes seven minutes for its light to reach us. This means the sun we see is actually the sun of seven minutes ago and if the sun exploded we wouldn’t know about it until seven minutes after the event (unless this event spewed cosmic sun vomit at us in fewer than seven minutes, which it may well might).

In fact the sun is about to get a whole lot more interesting for us humans as two satellites we fired into space way back in 2006 to view both sides of the sun in its entirety have reached their positions and are now sending back full images of the sun for the first time in humanities history. Not bad for a bunch of six foot bipeds.

Something to think about next time you jet off, anyway.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Keep on Running (and therefore enjoying pizzas more)

Did you have a good Christmas and New Year? I did - it was too good in fact. I had far too much food, booze and even the occasional take-away, thanks to a tempting pizza menu offer that came through the letter box one cold night.

As such all my good fitness based work that had taken place in the autumn was completely undone. So, during a night of quite contemplation, I decided the only thing for it was to enter a 10k race to force myself to get training.

So March 20 in Clapham Common is the location and going sub 40 minutes is the goal.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember I did a 42.20 in Richmond about 18 months ago which is the fastest I've ever run (over that distance) when it was quite undulating and very wet. I also did a 44.12 on a three-lap course in Hampstead that took us up a climb of almost one enter kilometer each time around. As such I am confident I have the capabilities to hit this time, even if it is going to be painful training for it. Still, no pain and all that…

I'm not just a speed merchant though, and do enjoy running purely for the pleasure. Even on cold nights there's actually sometimes nothing better than getting outside and pounding the pavement for a few kms, listening to some choons (Arcade Fire's The Sprawl II, the top song of the moment (still)), or chatting with my running mate around the highways and byways of South West London.

So far training is up to 4.5km in 22minutes, which is not too far off, need to add 500m and lose two minutes, and hopefully with increasing light and receding cold this will become easier as well.

The other benefit of all of this running is now I can enjoy a pizza after work without any guilt...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Return to blogging

Where have I been? Busy, that's where.

I went to Paris for a day and a night – I found the Eurostar quite boring actually, not much to look at. Just a train really, isn't it? No fishes out the window or anything like that.

I also saw a play about sub-editors called Subs, which was fun, although was in Kilburn which was not so fun. It was quite good, although the main driving force of the play was an incredibly irritating Welsh man who shrieked and cat-called his lines –as he was no doubt meant to-but it became a bit grating after a while.

Even more enjoyable than this was seeing my girlfriend's play – Dirty Laundry – be performed at the Putney Arts Theatre a couple of weeks ago. Am dram is great, I love the people you meet, the willingness to get involved, the sheer creativity that occurs when people are forced to think innovatively about creating sets and costumes and all those such things.

I have begun running again, heading towards 10k in Clapham in March where I want to get sub 40-minutes (just because) and I am reading as always. Recent books included Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore (The book I lost on my flight back from Las Vegas last year but found for £2 in a shop over Christmas so bought to make up for that loss) and now Why England Lose At Football, a very interesting pop-economics book on how data in sport reveals that traditional thinking of sports, especially football, is bunkum.

Oh, and only four episodes from finishing The Wire. What a journey.

Expect more updates as and when possible.