Bored, LS18

Feb. 5th, 2011 12:34 am
mhoulden: (Default)
First unflocked post for ages. So what's been going on in the somewhat diminished house of Houlden? I'm still waiting to get grant of representation that will allow me to get my dad's affairs sorted out but the intestacy rules have some serious shortcomings about situations that weren't envisaged in the 1920s when they were drawn up, so it isn't that easy to sort out. Losing a parent is a big thing to deal with, especially when he was only 62, but I think winding up his estate is a good practical thing I can do for coping with it. It surprises me that organisations still act as if they don't have processes in place for dealing with deceased customers or clients. As I wrote in a letter to E.ON:
I write with reference to your letter of 12th January 2011 from XXX regarding my late father’s account. Frankly I was appalled by its condescending tone and the discourteous approach that EON has taken in this case so far. Domestic residences have been entitled to electricity supplies since at least the Electric Lighting Act of 1882 and I would hope that by now EON or its predecessors would have developed effective and sensitive procedures for closing the accounts of deceased customers.

There's a fair bit else going on that I may describe in a flocked post, but not in a public one.

Workwise I'm a redeployee (again) so I'm looking for a new job at the company. There are a couple of developer roles there but I'm also being asked to consider other stuff that I've tried before. Job searching doesn't take a lot of time so things are otherwise pretty quiet. At least I'm still working from home.

Gym-wise, after something of a hiatus over xmas I'm getting back into it. There's a BJJ seminar this Sunday and then I've put my name down to do another Thai interclub a week on Sunday. My weight did go up a bit over xmas and it's being tricky to shift, but I've definitely changed my lifestyle so much that there's no way I'm going back to the old ways. Now I'm getting back to normal and the weather's improving I can concentrate a bit more on bringing it down.

Something I'm after now is some kind of challenge. Not probate, or the gym, or work, or computer related, but something else. One idea is writing, but what? I've got quite a verbose style with influences from Bill Bryson and Charlie Brooker. My Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets are obviously one form but they're short and there's a lot I leave out, partly to avoid too much detail and partly because I don't like to mention everything about my life. Fiction is one idea: if music can have soundscapes it should be possible to do the same sort of thing with words, and I'm particularly interested in dystopian environments and the feeling of being "outside the system". Fiction would also give me the chance to describe situations without getting personally involved. If you know it's fiction you can change all sorts of details because it's made up.

Another idea is commentary, but on what subject? The minutiae of life can be pretty boring to read. I'm interested in politics and current affairs but I find writing something coherent can take a lot of effort because I want to check facts are correct and more reliable than Wikipedia. Same with covering the rituals and superstitions that infest sport. The other thing is getting people to read what I write. Publishing online is easy but there are zillions of blogs out there with no readers. There's the notes on Facebook as well but I find my friends list tends to shorten when I go into any sort of detail. For some reason being politically left wing and a sceptic when it comes to things like quack nutritionists and pseudo-scientific ideas doesn't go down too well in certain circles.
mhoulden: (Default)
So, 2010 then. Far too busy to go for a long description of what's been happening in the new year, but I'd say the main points are these:

New years resolution: fight, with all that it entails including training and keeping an eye on the weight. I'm looking at getting back down to 84 - 86 kg and staying there, but losing fat and muscling up. I'd like to fight both Thai boxing and MMA but we'll just have to see what happens.

Training: I had a proper break over xmas with no training at all. I've been getting back into it with returning to work as well, and it really makes you realize just how tough it was just before xmas. I'm doing extra sessions compared to last year with MMA and submission grappling at Leeds Cage. Good to be learning a different type of striking, and also having more time to work on grappling without the complication of wearing a gi which means I can practice more techniques without getting grabbed all the time. Rather than just locking someone down in the guard position (on my back with my legs wrapped round them) I'm trying to move around more. Sure I get submitted a lot more, but it's all practice.

Snow: bored of it and hopefully there won't be any more any time soon. Photos of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhoulden/sets/72157623020457403/. I tried going out on the bike a couple of times but it just wasn't safe. Sunday just gone I cycled over a patch of wet sheet ice on the towpath and the bike skidded out from under me. This time I landed on my backside and the only damage was a cable tie on the bike snapping. No need for ambulances or slings but I did feel a bit grumpy about the couple just in front of me who were oblivious to anything happening. They might be a bit less oblivious if I'd slid into them.

Work: yup, still there. I seem to have acquired a Blackberry and agreed to be on a callout rota. Muggins was on call on the 24th, 26th and 28th of December but thankfully I didn't have any callouts. I did have one a week after I got back to work, but it was during working hours and it mostly consisted of phoning people up and getting them to agree that an emergency fix would cost money and only be an hour or so earlier than if they just updated things on their usual schedule.

Other stuff: the iPhone 3G is a waste of time. Pointless lockdown, crippled features and the one I had didn't work properly. Classic style over substance. When I phoned Orange to return it they didn't even ask what was wrong and knew roughly how much the postage would cost. They didn't say they'd had a load of faulty ones but I think it was obvious.

2008 was a strange year with the last 6 months written off, training-wise at least. 2009 was my comeback. Hopefully this year I'll be building on it. I've been round the houses too much to go for the banal fortune cookie platitudes that motivational coaches repeat to each other, but I think staying positive is a good way to approach things.

Off to my mum's this weekend and to see what Tod Judo club is like. If [livejournal.com profile] k425 and [livejournal.com profile] oldbloke are interested I can report back and let them know.
mhoulden: (Default)
Ages since the last really long update. I think I've just got out of the habit of sitting down and writing long posts. Conversely I do a lot of status updates on Facebook or even Twitter because it's easier to write a single sentence or even just a fragment of one. Written English is not like spoken English and I refrain from using chavvy txtspk in the updates, even if there are limits on how long they can be. "Y" is the 25th letter of the alphabet, not an interrogative word. "Day" is a period of 24 hours, not the third person personal pronoun. Of course language changes and it's possible to be too prescriptive about how it's used. However, standard (written) English is a completely different dialect to the spoken sort and you don't spell things in the way that you would like people to read them out. Similarly, txtspk was invented with the specific purpose of getting as much into the 160 character limitation of an SMS. Twitter is limited to 140 characters for sure, but you can always post another tweet or just use shorter words. I go for the principle of being strict about what you send and lenient about what you receive, so if someone else wants to use that type of language I don't mind as long as I can understand it.

Anyway, life continues as normal. I'm still training 5 times a week, with the usual mixture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Thai boxing and cycling. With it getting darker in the evenings I'm probably going to switch the midweek evening bike ride for a run. To get any kind of distance on the bike I need a reasonable proportion on of my route to be along the canal, but being unlit and somewhat isolated means I need to think about personal safety. Not everyone who goes along an urban canal towpath in the dark is there for entirely legit reasons, and also in the dark it can be harder to tell where the towpath isn't. I got back into running last year as a way of keeping fit while bike and arm were out of action and gradually built up to doing a mile in about 9 - 10 minutes and 6 miles in less than an hour.

On the Thai boxing front, I should hear in the next day or so whether or not I'll be fighting on the 18th of October. This will be in Harrogate and will be my first full contact fight, which means that I could win (or lose) by a knockout. It's 3 weeks tomorrow so I do need to know so I've got enough time to prepare. I've been put forward to fight at 86 kg which is the top end of Thai boxing cruiserweight class so I also need to find out what my weight is and how much I'll need to lose. Someone has nicked the scales from the gym so we'll need to get them back.

These days I don't have (or need) the relentless weight loss I had in the past. While I'm technically overweight, judging by the state of me in my profile pic there's absolutely nothing to worry about. I have a 34" waist, 42" chest, 25" thighs, and a resting blood pressure of 120/60 and resting pulse of 58. Not bad from where I was a few years ago. Friday will be my 31st birthday. Probably safe to say I've got a lot more ahead of me than I did 5 years ago.

I also seem to have got a new job at work. I was redeployed in May because of a short term budget shortage, got a project using Oracle and Linux to keep me occupied for a few months which is now coming to an end, and now I've got a new one which will involve C# and SQL Server development. This is a separate one from the one I mentioned on Facebook which is for a senior Windows developer working in a different bit of the company. It's supposed to be based in Wolverhampton and is a higher grade than my current one. On that one I'll just have to wait and see.

I've also been having a go at a bit of photography. Couple of shots here (On LJ) or the full set is on Flickr. I haven't taken many so far but it's a start.
mhoulden: (Default)
So, life then. Sometimes there's just too much going on to think about but it isn't exciting enough to write about but hey, this is a blog. Anyway, as far as work goes, I was redeployed, then got a short term project to do. Without getting too technical, it involves taking a bunch of Excel spreadsheets and turning them into a proper database. There's a lot of internal politics involved with the technology we can use. I wanted to use ASP.Net and MS SQL Server because I know it pretty well but in the end we had to use Oracle and Apex. I've done Oracle in the past but not Apex (which is essentially a particularly database-heavy content management system).

In one of those cases of serendipity, one of the senior managers involved with this was my line manager on a project I did a few years. In among all the politics it looks like I've been deredeployed (if that's a word) and been offered a new permanent job. I'll be making a couple of phone calls to sort out the details, but it sounds like it'll be some kind of technical design role doing the same kind of thing that I'm doing for this project but on a more structured basis. Work's internal processes are designed for big "strategic" projects but there's a need for smaller "tactical" systems. As well as the techy stuff I think they might also need a fast track approvals process so it's actually allowed to go ahead. Our processes might look good in management textbooks but they do have a few areas that could be improved and hopefully the new job will allow me to influence some of them.

Still on with the training as well. Training up for my fight made a big difference to my fitness. I was pretty fit anyway but even more so now. It does mean I've got to work even harder to make any progress. My Thai boxing sparring has sharpened up a fair bit but concentrating on that means I've got a bit out of practice with the BJJ. I should be getting a DVD of my fight through in the next couple of days (possibly even tomorrow) which will be going Youtube once I get round to ripping it. As far as the weight goes, I've decided my final target will be 83-84 kg. As long as it's 86 kg or less for my next fight (whenever that might be) I'll be happy. Now I am this fit I want to make sure I stay that way for as long as possible.

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mhoulden

February 2011

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