So I ran a 5K

So, it’s 2016 and I’m not getting any younger. The last few years have seen me display some slight signs of the impending decreptude inherent in the aging process, of which I am hurtling through at an alarming pace.

I’m 46, and for the first 40 of those years I was as healthy as you like, with virtually no effort on my part. I did a little bit of exercise here and there, but didn’t really need to watch my weight or put much effort in to maintain a basic level of fitness.

StaplesWhile my weight has somehow managed to stick to a healthy-ish 12 1/2 stone my fitness levels have suffered quite a bit. This started, mostly, with me stuffing up my knee in my late 30s, then having a knee operation (ACL reconstruction – ouch!) and becoming a bit of a couch potato. I’ve done a bit of pilates here and there to help with the knee and had a couple of aborted fitness campaigns along the way, but I have finally bitten the bullet and joined a gym.

I started a new job in December at the University of Nottingham. I work at the King’s Meadow Campus and we have own own little gym here. It’s a little compact, but has enough machinary to ensure that I can use something different every day if I wanted – treadmills, cross-trainers, rowing machines and free weights (among a host of other devices). They also run a few fitness programmes throughout the week.

Today I did some pilates-like stretches on the mat before setting myself a bit of a stretch by running 5k on a treadmill. This took me about 32 minutes and caused me to go a bit red in the face.

I can’t say with any honesty that I particularly enjoyed the whole experience, but I do feel a little better afterwards, having stretched out my lungs properly for the first time in years. Perhaps I can put off the decrepitude a little longer. I’ll have a go, seeing as I’ve signed up to the gym for a minimum of 12 months. Might as well use it seeing as I’m paying for it!

(Top photo used through Creative Commons – image courtesy of Farhad sh on Flickr)

Sense8 Season One

We finished this excellent series tonight. Netflix is producing some wonderful telly these days and, after a slow start, this series has turned out to be a highlight from the last year. 

It was full of well-drawn characters, interesting storylines and fascinating locations. It must have cost a fortune to make, and it was well worth it. It’s one of the more diverse casts – a good racial mix with some gay (and one trans) protagonists – and it has some exceptional, if very violent, fight scenes. 

Looking forward to Season Two!

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Hello 2016

Happy New Year!

Well, wasn’t 2015 fun? We had quite an entertaining year; I graduated from the Open University, got a new job, won the Area contest with my band Carlton Brass then finished a creditable 4th at the National Finals; Ruby continues to be gorgeous & is developing into a loving, funny, incredible human being; Jo is still the love of my life, the one who supports me without question & who I adore more & more every year. I hope your 2015 has been great too. 

I’ve given up doing resolutions – I never even make it to January before breaking all of them. This year I am going to express some weak aims that may even be achievable. These are:

  • Exercise more (I’ve joined a gym!)
  • Blog more (every day? Unlikely)
  • Bring more systems thinking into my work life

The last one is probably the most interesting to me. I started my new job at the University of Nottingham last month and they have shown an interest in using systems thinking to improve their working practices. I’ve been getting more and more interested in using these tools recently and I’m glad that I now work somewhere that values it.

In the meantime I’m going to enjoy one of the many beers I got for Christmas. Have a great start to the year!

What motivates you?

I’ve been attending the Nottingham Agile meetups over the last year. They’ve all been excellent, with loads of good presentations aimed at making us better software developers.

Last night’s meetup was about Scrum Masters (and how to be a great one). The talk – by the always helpful and insightful Chris RF – included an amazing video. It’s an animated short that includes a talk about motivation by Dan Pink. Here it is:

This hits on a whole load of points covered in my Systems Thinking modules with the Open University. Autonomy and responsibility are far better motivators than remuneration, and the evidence supports this. You can’t fix poor results by offering bonuses – fix the system!

I don’t think that Agile is a panacea for systemic issues, but it’s a good start. It helps to encourage conversations between stakeholders and it should help organisations understand where problems are.

The second half of the meetup included a whistle-stop tour through Kanban by Leigh White; and he showed that this way of looking at problems can be used with any methodology. I’m generally unfamiliar with Kanban, but it is based on systems thinking principles and it does look useful for finding bottlenecks and helping to improve flow. No scrums required (although I’m generally a fan of scrum). It was an excellent talk too – I really need to find our more.