Category Archives: life

Challenge Conclusion…

Back in April I challenged myself to run 5km in under 19 minutes and gain 1.5 stone by the last Bridge Inn 5km of the summer.

Tonight was the night.

Being too busy disorganised, I didn’t realise that tonight was the deadline until today. If I had realised I would probably have prepared a little better. Two days ago I ran my first Kymin Dash, a ~7 mile run but includes a decent hill. Four days ago I ran in a 10km race between local clubs and broke 40 minutes for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t have the highest hopes before tonights race, my legs were tight and still a bit sore. I got chatting with another runner at the start line and we exchanged excuses as to why we weren’t going to do very well (an unwritten custom). I was mid-sentence when the whistle blew.

Woah! Quick! Start the watch and run!

Maybe it was being caught off-guard, but I shot off without any time to get nervous and build thoughts of self-doubt. I reached the half-way point, and glanced at my watch. I was on target. I was better than on target, I was going too fast. It didn’t matter though, I felt good. I dug in for the return to the finished line. Although the course is a simple 2.5km out, then 2.5km back, I’m pretty sure that the return leg is longer ūüėČ

I can see the finish in the distance now, another look at my watch, 17 minutes. 2 minutes left if I’m to hit my target. The finish looks far away and although I’m running as fast as I can, I know I’ve slowed down. I pick out a road sign ahead that I think is half way between me and the end. I tell myself, “If I can reach that in 1 minute, then I can do it”. 1 minute and 15 seconds later I run past the sign. Damn. “Forget that, it probably wasn’t half way”, my legs are burning, “it’s only another 45 seconds, just sprint like mad!” I fly over the finish line and tap my watch. It takes me a second or two before I’m physically able to look at the watch because my arms are still flailing around trying to slow down. 18:58. Whoop! I punch the air like I’ve just won the thing as other runners who finished earlier clap slowly and politely.

So, I hit my target with 2 seconds to spare. Well done me. That’s that then. Thanks for reading. Bye.

Ahem. Oh. You’re still here. “What about the weight thing?”. Erm, yeah, well, I kinda focussed more on the running. I just weighed myself and I’m exactly the same as when I started.

Yeah, I failed the challenge really, but I don’t care. It was great fun and with my fresh personal bests I’m buzzing!

Inspired

My First Stranger.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop hosted by the talented Lou O’Bedlam. Although I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, I was getting inspired. Not only was I getting inspired to take more picutres, I was getting inspired to focus on stepping out of my comfort zone and going after my dreams.

Lou talked about recently teaching his nephew how to ask a girl out. His advice was simple: “Just ask her”. His nephew replied, “But then what would I say?”. “Woah!, that’s phase 2, don’t worry about that. Focus on phase 1: Asking her”.

The analogy was straight forward enough and was advice for us as photographers if we want to take pictures of the strangers we meet in the street. The worst that can happen is they can say no.

I took my camera to work today determined I would simply take pictures of all the interesting people I met. Throughout the day I saw several ideal candidates. But I can’t ask her, she has headphones on. She’s walking too fast, must be in a rush. The light’s not right. He doesn’t look friendly. She’s too tall, I’d have to climb something to get the right angle, but she’ll think I’m just trying to take a picture of her boobs… My brain found an excuse in an instant for all of them. The truth was that I was a big scared wimp.

I went out again, on my own this evening to walk around the harbour specifically to see if I could pluck up the courage to ask someone if I could take their portrait. All too soon, my opportunities were missed and the sun had set so I headed home dragging my heels. On the way however I saw a girl with an amazing look and I went for it so spontaneously that I surprised myself.

“Hi!”

She looks startled. I mean, very startled. It’s quite late and there are only one or two other people around. I panic a little and start to blurt out my words at record pace (the opposite of Lou’s advice):

“Erm, I know this is a bit random, but you have a really pretty and interesting face, do you mind if ¬†take your picture?”

She’s still startled, perhaps so much so she can’t think of a better answer:

“Um, yeah, ok”

What? She said yes. Christ, now I’m gonna have to take this thing, where’s the light? It’s about 9:45pm and getting dark. I don’t want to use flash. I slap the camera on¬†aperture¬†priority to f/1.8 and cross my fingers.

-Click-

Blurry, damn.

I glance up and can see she wants to leave. She heard a click and I only asked for a photo. I can’t remember what I then said, some mumbling nonsense about grain and ISO settings probably. I quickly knock the ISO up to 800.

-Click-

I eyeball the screen, blurry? Probably. Good enough? Yes!

“Thanks so much for letting me take them. I can see I’m freaking you out a bit so I’m just gonna go the long way home over this way so you don’t think I’m following you. Er.. thanks again.”

I start to scuttle off, feeling awful for scaring the poor girl then hear a feint “Cheers”. Maybe she’s just a little shocked, but flattered. I wanted to give her my card so she could at least choose to email me if she wanted to see the photos but I forgot. I didn’t even tell her my name, or ask her hers. The whole thing was a nightmare display of clumsy social awkwardness that would make any observer cringe. Did I step out of my comfort zone? Yes. Did I learn about 50 things in as many seconds? Yes. None of that matters, that’s just perfecting phase 2. I’ll work on that tomorrow…

Read the blog post, read read. But what if I don’t want to? It doesn’t matter, READ!

After some late night cramming for an exam last week I went to bed with my head still chattering. I told a sleepy Karen about my day at work and how Dan and I kept singing different words to Adam and Joe‘s “Text the Nation” jingle. I gave the example: “Patch the source code, patch patch, but what if it’s not tested? It doesn’t matter, PATCH!” (I hope the sarcasm reads well).

As I noisily clambered into bed, Karen reminded me I still had my glasses on. “But how will I see my dreams?” I replied, to which she instantly quipped “It doesn’t matter, SLEEP!”. Karen got the idea instantly even though she was half asleep and doesn’t really listen to the show. She still managed to come up with something better than any of my attempts.

It’s when these moments of utter genius tumble out of Karen’s mouth that I am reminded how much smarter than me she is.

What’s the best sim-only mobile contract?

OK, I know, it’s a bit of a silly question because everyone has different needs, but these are mine:

  • 1 month rolling contract — I don’t want to be stuck with the contract for 12 months
  • Keep my number — I rummaged through the boxes in a BTCellnet shop years ago to get my number and I’m going to keep it
  • Unlimited internet — Well, a fair usage of at least 1GB, and I don’t want to get charged if I go over, I just want a warning
  • Some free minutes — To all networks of course
  • Some free texts
  • ¬£25 per month or less

So far, the best I’ve found is the solo-20 plan at T-Mobile:

  • 1 month rolling contract
  • Keep my number
  • Unlimited internet — Fair usage of 1GB
  • 600 minutes to all networks
  • Unlimited texts
  • ¬£20 per month

If you think you’ve found a better plan that meets my minimum requirements, or this deal is no longer available, add a comment and I’ll update this post.

Update December 2012:¬†This solo-20 plan is no longer available. This was pointed out to me by a commenter linking to¬†http://www.comparisim.co.uk/. I thought, oh great, another spammer (like many of the comments) but the site actually looks pretty good. I also recommend¬†http://www.billmonitor.com/. Personally I’m on a normal contract now (this post is old) but please post any good deals in the comments for others to find.

Cheers!

-Matt

Audio Stalking

I’m just writting this as a holding place for funny things I overhear. Little bits of someone else’s conversation caught out of context. I hope this is just the beginning or a lifelong reel of quotes that I append to as funny things enter my ears from the mouths of unaware passers-by.

I’m starting it because I just heard:

“How did it survive being cooked in a flapjack”

I have no idea what she was talking about, and to be honest, I don’t want to know. It’s funnier left to the imagination.