Saturday, 7 June 2014

Shopping and running

Two croquet players and a garden urn with flowers
Just a nice picture from 2004

Good news

The gastroparesis article is finished, the editor seems to like it, and has sent a pro-forma invoice for me to submit. They are going to pay me! Given the amount of time it took, the hourly rate probably works out at less than the minimum wage, and I ought to declare it for tax, but on the whole I think this qualifies as good news. Finishing the writing has freed up my Tuesdays for more interesting things.

I have been on a shopping spree. Nearly all online, of course, but still, it felt like going into the street and throwing money at things that I've wanted to get for a very long time but it was just too much effort to go into shops. Quite ordinary things mostly: a dish drainer tray, oven gloves, electronic kitchen scales, a new kitchen bin. The bin is not ordinary because it is a luxury touch-top item from Brabantia and cost more than all the other purchases put together, but it is a thing of beauty while being utterly functional.

I also bought a new mobile phone, or more accurately, a phone contract that comes with a new mobile phone. It had taken me two years to bump up against the limitations of my first smartphone, but eventually I realised that I should be able to download more than two apps and use the camera without it seizing up. It took a few long sessions on the Internet and a fairly extended discussion in a shop, but my new mobile has changed my views on smartphones, and has excelled in an entirely unexpected field - my running.

I downloaded an app that used the GPS signal to track my location and speed. This was hopeless on the old mobile, but the new one coped very well. I turned the app on at the start of the run and then examined it at the end and it told me all about my route and speed and it was great. Then it emailed me a link to create a Spotify playlist, so I thought that would be fun. I no longer need or want the plinky-plonky music that came with the Couch to 5k podcast, but it's much less boring to run when listening to music.

The revelation came when I managed to put all these things together for my second Parkrun. The phone was robust enough to access and play the music, and I started up the running app alongside it and they both worked together, and I plugged in the earphones and I could listen as I ran. It wasn't even raining. All of a sudden, a few minutes into the run, the music was interrupted for a second and the running app gave me an update on how I was doing - how far and how fast I had run. I'm no newcomer to the power of the Interwebnets, but this was a combination of utility and ease of use that I found astounding.

So my running career has culminated in a time of 35-and-a-bit minutes for 5 km, which I am very pleased with. A friend was also there on Saturday, and speaking to him afterwards I was sure that I wasn't going to do any more runs, because all the way through I'd been thinking how tedious it all was, and how much more fun it is playing badminton. Subsequently, however, I looked back on the event with some pleasure, and now I'm not so sure that I won't do it again. I think our holiday will get in the way, but we'll see.

Lastly in the good news category, I spent the best part of a whole day cleaning the oven. Not good news in itself, but it doesn't half look nice when it's clean. That should last about a week.

Bad news

I mentioned that my ipod died and was revived - well, it has died again. Rather than ending my life, Mr A has generously lent me his, which is so far performing as it should, unlike my laptop. The poor laptop has been groaning and shuddering for a while, taking about 20 minutes to boot up and generally being more sluggish than a snail without a home. Mr A bought me a new hard disk and operating system, and once the gastroparesis article was finished I started installing it. Unfortunately, the new and powerful hard disk seems to overtax the geriatric laptop (born in 2009) so that after about 10 minutes of usage the fan fires up noisily and within a minute or two it shuts down without further ado. That's as far as we've got with the laptop. Mr A is experimenting with my ipod to see if he can keep it alive for a bit longer.

Meanwhile at work, there is bad news masquerading as good news. The Dietetic Manager is juggling her many fecund female staff who seem to come back from maternity leave for all of three minutes before admitting to being pregnant again, and that's not counting the ones whose family members require their immediate attention or are themselves needing some time away from the office. Not to make light of a distressing situation, one of the two hospital Dietitians where I work is unavoidably absent, and the Manager is taking none of my excuses or suggestions, and requires me to spend some time On The Wards.

I have tried to keep this to the minimum that is ethically possible, but I notice that I seem to think patients need a lot less attention than the Dietetic Manager does. I am going to have to see people in hospital beds who need nutrition support, and it is not the area of dietetic practice that interests or attracts me, which strongly suggests I am not going to be very good at it. Let's hope my attitude and out-of-date skill set doesn't land me in trouble. I really don't like ward work.

As a carrot dangling before my eyes, however, the same Dietetic Manager has suggested that more paid work may be available in Diabetes. This has been mentioned before, and timescales are vague, as are the actual content and location of the extra work required. I'm not holding my breath. I've started to enjoy my Tuesdays and I'm not quite so keen as I used to be to rejoin the world of full time work.

Ten foot thistle among the roses with me for scale
Also in the bad news category is the garden. I have done absolutely no work in the garden this year, which has left us with an attractive meadow instead of a lawn, an enormous amount of foliage covering every inch of soil, most of the walls, and causing the 'paved' area to resemble, well, more garden. We are about to go away for a week, and it keeps raining, so the plants may well have staged their bid to take over the house as well by the time we get back. If you look closely, the picture shows the dominance of the ten-foot thistle over the puny efforts of the human race. Although its two colleagues were broken by wind/rain, it has latched itself on to the rose bush and shows no signs of halting its assault on humanity. Luckily, its legs have not yet formed so we may yet be able to conquer it when the time comes.

Lastly in the bad news category, you may have noticed a lack of book reviews (good news for some, I believe). I have picked on the book 'Middlemarch' for leisure reading, and it is proving to be hard going. I've found a few good audio books though, and shall take some less heavy duty reading on holiday next week. I wonder how many I should pack?

Oh yes, our doorbell has stopped working too.

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