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Chapati making

I tried making Chapatis this weekend with the girls. For all my Indian heritage, I’m better at a roast or BBQ than I am at this sort of thing but we gave it a go. All of my output was a little too crunchy – I think down to rolling the chapatis out too thin and not kneading them for long enough to let gluten do whatever it is that gluten does.

Checked out this video guide belatedly and kind of wish I’d watched it in advance now. She makes it look so effortless! Need to give it another go!

Posted in Food.

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Pixelpumper – a Windows Live Writer / Marsedit alternative offline WordPress editor for Mac

I’ve been loath to invest in Marsedit when my blogging is so intermittent and patch but have been enjoying my attempts with Pixelpumper – a super clean, super simple offline blog editor for OSX. It has a clean, modern UI and thus far seems fairly idiot proof.

It is pretty light on options in its free mode (it has a ‘nerd mode’ for the keen, for premium purchase), but thus far is doing a reasonable job at helping me get back into it. It is annoying that ‘CMD-K’ does strikethrough instead of hyperlink, though, will need to figure that one out.

Posted in Software.

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Running again

After my fairly intense training in 2008/9 I’ve had a few years of middling persistence with my running, doing the odd 5-10k training runs and little else. 

With slack control of my diet as well, my fitness has steadily declined and – once again – I’ve had enough. I’m trying to find a new routine that lets me build fitness up again and will refuse to allow ‘being busy’ at work to be an excuse for missing my run efforts. I had set an objective within Runkeeper (1000km this calendar year) which I am quite a long way off hitting, but if I can get to 500km this year (cumulative total) that will still be a pretty good achievement given where I’ve been.

So, 20km this weekend, and hopefully most other weeks to follow (two 5ks and a long slow run), and hopefully some improvements in my speed. Be nice to get to a sub-60 minute 10k again. And then, who knows, perhaps a race or two? Will help if the weather is nice…

Posted in Running.

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Hiatus

This is probably the 10th ‘apologies, I’ve been too busy to post’ post in the 11 year history of this blog. I’ll try to be better; gradually finding an equilibrium between the various things I do.

Life is awesome: kids great, work exciting, gradually getting the running going again, and today I’m going to get a dirty burger for lunch. Where’s the bad?

In the meantime, go read my colleague Nikhol’s blog about food and get hungry in anticipation of Friday lunchtime and the bank holiday weekend.

Good to be back. More coherent posts to follow.

Posted in General update.

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Red boxes and digital government

Budget 2012I’m looking at the digitisation of government quite a lot at the moment for work and red an amusing piece a colleague flagged to us and was amused (but not surprised) to read:

“Nick Herbert, Tory minister for policing and justice until last summer, claimed that he had been better supported in Opposition; indeed, he said, the “sheer clunkiness” of the Whitehall system was revealing. Officials sent him proposals by email, but then printed them off to put in his ministerial red boxes. These should have followed him by car, so he could work on them overnight, but “there weren’t any cars”. He decided to use his iPad – but was told this was banned “because the Chinese might be listening in”. He found it hard to believe that China was terribly interested in our policing policy.”

I’d looked into buying a friend a red box for his birthday and in the course of Googling it I found this post from 2007:

The astonishing figure of £50,000 has been spent by the government on ministerial red boxes in the last few years, as has been revealed by answers to questions asked by Lib Dem MP John Hemming.
Some red boxes cost up to £750, although others costs less than half this.

The Government Digital Service has its work cut out for it – surely even an iPad with extra encryption / management software wouldn’t cost that much money! I don’t know how much has moved on in the last 7 years but if they had rolled out iPads I’m sure we’d have heard about it, and there’d be more ministerial red boxes on eBay!

Posted in Current affairs, Work.

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The spirit of demolish and refurbish

blogdesignOur architect tells us we have entered into the spirit of ‘demolish and refurbish’, which is exciting and terrifying. Having taken on the challenge to create our grand design this year, we’ve been working with our architect, Ian, to try to find a way of structuring our house so that the thousand inconveniences you don’t notice fade away – like ducking out of the kitchen every few minutes to check on Emily, or going down a step, up a step and through three doors to get to the utility room.

The new designs are very exciting, not least because they also afford us the opportunity of clearing out the wallpaper, dated fittings etc, that we have tolerated/not bothered to replace since we moved in. That said, we’re at the ‘conceptual’ stage right now – which is to say, the plans are utterly devoid of any indication of cost, so we have very little idea how much we can afford to achieve. There’s also the practical issue of having to move out for the duration of the renovation…

But; definitely exciting times!

Posted in Home improvement.

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Back posting on @coolsmartphone

After a lengthy bout of busy-ness, I’ve finally made some more contributions to the Coolsmartphone blog. Get over there to read my posts bemoaning the ongoing rubbishness of the iPhone 4S battery life (and my further efforts to resolve it), the beauty and emptiness of social network Path’s app for iOS (shortly before the privacy issues emerged!) and a mini review of Death Rally for iOS (Noel – remember Death Track?).

Coming soon: some posts about my investigations into Google Android as I consider leaving the iOS fold!

Enjoy!

Posted in Technology.

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Crazy, Stupid Love and new shoes

Crazy stupid loveWatched this film the other night and, whilst it scored an ‘ok’ on my film-o-meter 9000 scale of movie goodness, it did make one specific lasting impression on me.

At one point, Steve Carrell’s character is sitting at a bar, nursing a drink, moping about his wife having left him. He gets pitied by a smooth-talking ‘player’ in the bar, who decides to help him improve his look and educates him in the ways of picking up women. The line that stuck in my memory was an exchange over what Steve was wearing:

“Are you Steve Jobs,” asks the Player.
“What?”
“Are you billionaire founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs?”
“No,…”
“Then why are you wearing New Balance trainers?”

Which at first struck me as elitist – I love New Balance trainers, they are my running shoe of choice. But then I looked at him, in his oversize suit and New Balance trainers, and realised… That’s what I must look like half the time.

So this weekend, we went suit and shoe shopping (as well as, more importantly and more successfully, shopping for Amanda). The Jones sale furnished me with a pair of ankle boots which I think are probably a reasonable upgrade over my previous best efforts for day-to-day footwear, but the hunt for the suit continues – thanks to the diet I am firmly between sizes at the moment.

Still, new shoes. Good start.

Posted in Film, General update, Running.

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The diet: one month in

jandiet

My new year’s resolution hasn’t yet faded – no procrastination, finally reaching a healthy weight.

A month in, and I’ve made more progress than I could have hoped – exactly 4 kg down (expect this rate of weight loss to half this month now that I’ve got off the ‘easy’ fat), and my push-up and sit-up challenges are going OK. By the end of Feb I should be back to my pre wedding weight (and within the ‘normal’ range on official BMI), and by the end of May I should be at my ultimate target weight – if I can keep it up that long!

The big challenge – getting back on track after the weekends!

How are your New Year’s Resolutions keeping?

Posted in Diet.

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The wrong turn, the right result

One of the things we’ve missed out in recent busy months is the random wandering across the countryside that you do in the interest of Sunday adventuring. Pick a place that sounds pretty, drive out, and have a walk! Such was the plan this Sunday, and, minor bits of Internet research complete, we headed out…

Of course, as Amanda knows the area pretty well, SatNav was kept in his box and we struck out confidently in roughly the right direction… and ended up turning off slightly too early on our route to scenic Kingsclere (our original destination), ending up in a tiny but beautiful village called Hannington. Discovering a map of local walks in the Lych-gate of the village church, we struck out on a cold and misty morning and had a lovely (short, and cold) walk, miles off the beaten path, meeting no-one other than two local villagers and their dogs out for the morning tramp around.

The pub, the Vine, is possibly one of the nicest country pubs I’ve been to in the area and the food was amazing – Emily even thought so, eating her way through a portion of pasta big enough for a 7-year-old. Wonderful.

Here’s to more countryside adventuring in the weeks to come…

Posted in Dadblogging, Observational.

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