Knees a-poppin’

I would like to publicly announce the following: I’m a bloody idiot.

I’m married to a nurse. Nurses know medically-related information about all sorts of afflictions and injuries. People should take notice of advice offered by said nurses.

Legs (by rutty)This is why I’m a bloody idiot. I have failed to take the advice of my own wife, a registered nurse, and decided to risk my well-being by taking part in a game of five-a-side football last night. As a surprise to no-one I succeeded in exacerbating my previous knee injury, and I’m now in the possession of a swollen, stiff patella.

It’s my own stupid fault and I apologise profusely to my lovely, brilliant wife for being such a bloody idiot. It seems that my knee on my left leg has too much play in the joint and cannot cope with quick turns or over-extension of the limb. I managed to twist it slightly earlier in the game by stopping quickly but after a quick rest in goal I came back out, found myself with a glorious opportunity in front of goal and attempted to kick the cover off the ball. My shot was saved and my left leg stretched too far and caused my knee to complain with a stab of pain. I fell over in a dramatic fashion, eventually hauling myself to my feet and playing in goal for the rest of the game.

I love playing football but it seems that my knee just cannot cope with the strain. It’s time to pack up my boots and try something more sedate, like darts or snooker or something.

In other fitness-related news it seems that my press-up challenge is going quite well. My arms, chest and parts of my back are immensely stiff after completing the first two parts of the first week, but I’ve gone from being able to do 36 press-ups (in five rounds) on Tuesday to doing 52 this morning. I fell short of the required amount in the last round (I was supposed to do at least ten but could only manage 7) but I’m pleased that I seem stronger already.

We’ll see how this goes, but I’m fairly confident that I’ll see an improvement on Saturday when I get to complete the first week.

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Can I do 100 press-ups?

I keep talking about improving my fitness and over the last few years I actually have done a little more exercise than I’m used to. However, getting on the cross-trainer every now and again really doesn’t count towards “getting fit”.

However, I’ve found a little six week program that might get me exercising regularly: the One Hundred Push Ups Program.

This will involve me spending a little time three days a week trying to build up to the goal of performing 100 press-ups one after the other at the six week point. 100 press-ups. All at the same time! Can I even do that?

The site offers some encouragement:

If you’re serious about increasing your strength, follow this six week training program and you’ll soon be on your way to completing 100 consecutive push ups!

Think there’s no way you could do this? I think you can! All you need is a good plan, plenty of discipline and about 30 minutes a week to achive this goal!

No doubt some of you can already do 50 consecutive push ups, but let’s face it, you’re in a big minority. Most of you reading this won’t even be able to manage 20 pushups. Actually, I’m sure many of you can’t even do 10.

However, it really doesn’t matter which group you fall into. If you follow the progressive push ups training program, I’m positive you’ll soon be able to do 100 push ups!

I can currently maybe do 15, maybe 10. I haven’t tried for a while but there’s only one way of finding out if I can do this isn’t there?

Let’s get to it!

Found via Mark’s Daily Apple and the fitsugar.

Give me strength!

You know, sometimes I really should stop reading the internet. The world sometimes seems to be chock full of dickheads – take for example Sheriff Pat Hedges of San Luis Obispo County. This idiot has taken it upon himself to arrest a pharmacist for dispensing medical marijuana to a 17 year-old kid recovering from cancer.

Reason TV has a story about Owen Beck, a 17-year-old high school kid from California who got bone cancer and had to get his leg amputated. The medicine Owen was taking was making him very sick and and lost a lot of weight, so his parents decided to try medical marijuana. The marijuana greatly helped Owen, easing his pain and nausea.

The owner of the dispensary, Charlie Lynch, often gave the marijuana to Owen without charging his parents. But the local Sheriff (who doesn’t like the fact that medical marijuana is legal in his town and the state of California) called the DEA. They raided the dispensary and arrested Lynch. He’s now under house arrest, attached to an extension cord for 2 hours a day, and is facing 100 years in prison.

Apparently, medical marijuana is legal under state law but illegal under federal law. How messed up is that? And so Charlie Lynch faces jail for legally/illegally dispensing drugs. This is seriously messed up. Sheriff Pat Hedges and various Federal law enforcement agents should be bloody ashamed of themselves.

Learning new things

Now that my job is secure (for now!) my thought have returned to my earlier desire to gain a degree in an engineering discipline. I don’t especially need this to take the next steps in my career but it’ll help to focus my mind on learning new things and it certainly won’t harm my chances of finding my way up that corporate ladder.

I’m looking at cources from the Open University and I’ve found one that fits neatly into my current role and also offers some interesting systems design options. It’s the BSc (Honours) Computing and System Practice degree.

Most of my current work is based around computer systems. These are usually Unix-based but I’ve started testing Linux systems recently and there’s a suggestion that Solaris is going to raise its head next year. I already have a decent understanding of these different platforms and I think that this degree would reinforce my own on-the-job learning while providing me with improved tools for understanding the whole system design.

Systems thinking means analysing organisations, institutions and information systems holistically, with the aim of improving efficiency, decision making and professional practice, and creating sustainable development. The aim of the Computing and Systems Practice programme is to equip you with the knowledge and skills of systems thinking and the ability to apply these to information systems. In particular, our aim is to give you:

  • a grasp of the key concepts of computing and of modern information systems, with an ability to see information systems in a wider systems framework

  • proficiency in systems thinking and systems practice

  • an understanding of the types of software systems that are now being developed, and the tools and methods used to construct them

  • skills such as analysis, design, programming and evaluation, which can be used to construct both computer software and non-computer systems

  • the ability to organise, communicate and present your own work effectively, both independently and with others in a team

  • the qualities that come with being a graduate in any discipline: specialist knowledge, intellectual self-confidence and independence, analytical ability and the life-long learning skills needed to keep up with fast-changing technologies.

From my current work situation this is a great fit and it offers some challenging learning along the way. I think I need to do something like this to give my career some momentum – not because I need the qualification but because I run the risk of taking the easy option and just stay doing the same thing until something happens to change it. I want to be in control of my own career destiny and I think that this will give me some addition tools to shape that.

Down On The Farm – Charles Stross

I seem to be in the mood for free short stories from Tor! After reading through, and thoroughly enjoying After The Coup by John Scalzi I’ve just read the other free story on the Tor site – Down on the Farm by Charles Stross.

I’ve not read anything by him before but I do have one of his books on a free PDF (via those lovely people at Tor) on my drive somewhere. I’m almost certainly going to have to read it very soon as this story was excellent.

It’s a little longer than Scalzi’s effort but still short enough at 36 pages. It visits an old universe of Stross’s that features some secret organisation called The Laundry. These black suiters deal with all sorts of otherworldly shenanigans, apparently, and this story involves a bit of advanced mathematics, 1960s computer systems and demonic possession of some description.

It’s funny and rather exciting too. The storyline is quite unexpected and satisfying. Read it if you have a spare 20 minutes or so.

After The Coup – John Scalzi

US Sci-Fi and Fantasy book publishers Tor have launched their new website recently and are celebrating this event with a couple of free stories.

The first of these is by one of my new favourite authors, John Scalzi. I really enjoyed his novel Old Man’s War and his US publisher, Tor, have persuaded him to write a short story set in the same universe. It features one of the main side-characters from that first novel, Harry, and can be downloaded in multiple formats, or just read on the webpage in plain text, right over HERE.

It’s very good. 24 pages of an amusing little episode where Harry gets to have his face punched in. It’s certainly not very serious stuff but it does set the tone for the novels. If you like this, and you probably will, then you’ll love the novels.

I really should get hold of The Ghost Brigades before too long. Thank you Tor for the free stuff, and thanks to John Scalzi for giving us the new story.

One small step

I’m a day late on this but yesterday was the 39th anniversary of one of the greatest events in the history of science – the very first lunar landing by Apollo 11. I think I can be forgiven for forgetting this particular anniversary as I was only about six weeks old at the time. Luckily for me, though, there’s some video evidence to remind us of what happened on the 20th July 1969.

Apparently there are plans afoot to develop a permanently manned lunar station some time around the year 2020 or so. I can hardly wait to see that!