Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My back is officially back!

Just a small note of self-congratulation; today, I managed to break my target for getting back into serious training (yay!).

After last August's trip to Ireland I got out of the training habit for while (which was a shame as just before I went on the Ireland trip I did set a reasonably impressive personal best) and then due to some bad luck (and perhaps some overtraining) managed to hurt my lower back. This resulted in me having to take 3 months off from training (and also all billiard playing :-( ) to let my back recover. For the last couple of months then I have been gradually easing back into my workouts pushing myself a little harder each time. Today I finally succeeded in passing the somewhat arbitrary target I set myself for getting back into serious training so I am quite psyched (not least because the workout I have been doing for the past few months has become somewhat monotonous and I was beginning to doubt I would ever get back to a reasonable starting point, from tomorrow I now get to do a much more progressive workout tailored specifically for a shorter, more intense event with the whole micro-, meso-, and macro-cycle works).

So, I reached a small but significant stepping stone goal today - I am happy; life is good!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Favourite Authors

Who are you favourite authors ?

This morning I started to read Haruki Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore". It is a great book. I started to read the book this morning and then I finished it around 7pm this evening. It is a seriously good book and difficult to put down.

I like Murakami's style of writing and he certainly seems to have a good deal of insight into the darker side of things (though it has to be said that this is probably the least dark of the his books that I have read). Anyway, whilst reading the book I came to the conclusion that this is quite possibly the best book I have ever read (of course it could just be that I have forgotten the other great books that I have read - DH Lawrence's "The Rainbow" definitely also ranks very highly)!

In addition to Murakami, Paul Auster is another of my favourite authors. If you haven't read either of these authors' works then I can heartily recommend that you do so. If you have any favourite works/authors that you think I should read then please let me know!

In terms of non-fiction I recently came across this funky literary work. It describes why especially in this day and age that the customer experience is the most important thing for a business to get right. The moral of the story is "make sure you don't have any customer facing idiots" - the risk is just too high that they will do more harm than any salary savings you may make.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Personal DNA

Hmmm, sharing the results of personal self-analysis has never been a strong point of mine, but I discovered this quite interesting site today and did a quick 10 minute survey to find out more about what I think about myself.

I came out as an "Animated Inventor" (mouse over the above blocks to see the various categories) but I think I must have let my perception of myself interfere with who I know myself to be. I say this because half-way down the report it mentioned that "Those who are as outgoing as you are often need to remind themselves that time alone can be just as fulfilling...". Errrr.....I most certainly do not need reminding of that. I can quite easily spend hours without the company of others - actually, if I don't get my fix then I quite often get edgy because I need to do this.

If you know me then please review me (use ae20e9ab40df for the receipt) from your perspective so I can see where I am kidding myself (well, either that, or where I am not expressing myself as honestly as I should be (well, if I wanted to be totally honest that is :-) )).

Here is the full personal DNA report.

Friday, March 17, 2006

State of the Union 2004 address remix

This remix is really quite an impressive piece of work (N.B. contains some strong language).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

McPassion & Freakonomics

Two quick things:
  1. I am not sure whether this McPassion promotional video is real or not :-) .
  2. I was going to write a review of Freakonomics, but I discovered something that should give people a better idea about the book; an interblog debate on a section of the book (1-2-3).

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Kabuki Actor's Wedding Reception

Continuing on the quest to understand Japanese humour, this is hilarious (unfortunately though you need to understand some Japanese to appreciate it). [In Kabuki theatre the (hardcore) audience calls out the name of the Kabuki actor to show their appreciation (think of it as a bit like applause).]

Thursday, March 09, 2006


...and random aspects thereof...

  • "Fear of girls" is funny. I wonder how true it is (I've never been into RPG's myself):

  • I am very seriously fearful about what might happen to our privacy in the future (anyone up for buying a country (needs to have natural resources for self-sufficiency but nothing too in-demand by other nations) and making sure it is a haven for sensible people with secrets to keep?). Keeping secrets is a very basic human thing to do, I really cannot get my head around people who say "well, if you are not doing anything wrong...". It is not healthy to be comfortable with complete transparency (my secrets (selectively distributed) are the glue that connect the various aspects of me together. Nor is it healthy for governments to want to second guess its citizens (stifles creativity and all that). Though, think for a moment, how different the world might be if the British intelligence service was able to take out key people and prevent the signing of the US Declaration of Independence...[N.B. I thought that one US document granted US citizens the right to overthrow an unjust government, but I couldn't find any proper references. If true then an all seeing government is then in the rather frightening position of being able to define itself as just and still claim to be a democracy. Anyone know if there is such a document ?]
  • I fear that modern science is moving along quite steadily without my being able to keep we have computers that work best when switched off (they might produce fewer errors that way, but how on Earth (or should that be "earth"?) do you debug it ?).
  • I also fear that J. Tupper has too much free time to concoct a formula that draws itself! I hope he didn't try each parameter value one by one until it worked (have you seen the size of n ?).
What fears do you have ?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Where to take this ?

So, I have been doing this blog thing now for 3 months (ok, recently I've been a bit slack) and am wondering where to take it. I have recently actually started to tell people about it in an attempt to drive up the interactive side of things (you know...comments, questions, suggestions for future articles, criticisms of writing style, etc - i.e. to change the focus from a monologue to a dialogue).

Anyway, aside from my own selfish motivations for doing this, I am interested in what your (is there anybody there ?) thoughts are on what the best direction to take this blog in.

For instance, I could:
  • keep it much the same as at the moment and put out (suitably) random posts on whatever takes my fancy on a (more) regular basis,
  • move a little into group blogging and open up one day a week to a guest bloggers (are you interested in writing but don't want to blog yourself ? Perhaps you already have a blog but are interested in a more anonymous environment or seek access to a more sophisticated audience :-) ),
  • have theme days (e.g. Monday is Japanese language day, Tuesday is science+computer day, Wednesday is fun stuff day, Thursday is "what-has-annoyed-me-recently-and-how-I-would-fix-it" day, Friday is book review day),
  • introduce some educational segments ("let's learn together" ?),
  • seek requests (from you!) for post subjects,
  • start podcasting (does blogger support podcasts ?),
  • start video blogging (does blogger support vlogs ?),
or some combination of the above...let me know ok.

By the way, how do you read this blog (this assumes the existence of a reader of course):
  • Do you just visit this URL now and again ?
  • Do you use a feedreader of some description (by the way, in case you don't know the Atom feed for the full text of this blog is available from: - I guess I should really add it to the site template...) ?
  • Do you use a desktop based feedreader or a web one (like netvibes, protopage, or even by adding it to your my Yahoo! page for that matter) ?
[Personally, I like netvibes for handling all my feeds and protopage for web-based sticky notes of links/agendas/things to do/etc. I am actually getting more seriously into the whole "GTD" side of things and will definitely be writing some things up on this in the future - once I have perfected my system.]

Guide to Japanese humour

I am not sure whether the following were designed with making people laugh in mind, but these signs from a recent ski trip (especially the second one) gave me a new appreciation for Japanese and humour (not the best pictures I've taken I admit).

The bottom picture was on the room phone and I think I can now see what it was trying to say. The middle picture's Japanese says "Thankyou for using Penke Panke, the staff are all waiting for your next visit" (Penke Panke is the name of the hotel). I have to say though I do prefer their somewhat more creative translation.

That said, to truely appreciate the subtleties of Japanese humour you need to see/listen to the following (if you don't speak/read Japanese then you may need to find a native to help translate why these are funny)....
Last but definitely not least, this guide to Japanese sushi (with English subtitles):