Roddy's Ramblings

Thoughts and tales; some of them may even be true.

My Photo
Location: Australia

Hopefully whatever there is to know about me will come through whatever is written below - whatever that may bring...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Kicking off the long weekend

It's Friday and the next four days beckon towards me like a sultry temptress. I have to admit, I'm quite looking forward to it; although at the moment I'm sitting on the train on the way to climbing wishing I hadn't downed a litre and a half of water such a short time ago.

The train is actually full of Ireland and Australian supporters for the final, of three, international rules game tonight; which I did enjoy a lot when I went a couple of years ago. The atmosphere is good natured as pretty much all Australian sporting events are; with loads of tops for both sides around the train with no thought given to the possibility of animosity.

Tomorrow morning we head off into the outer reaches of Victoria to find some peace, quiet, solitude, food and wine with a work detox. Its the time that you promise to yourself that you'll be in the frame of mind to start exercising again after you get back because everything will seem so much clearer and brighter after a change of pace and scenery. Here's hoping anyway...

I'm tempted to chronologue a fitness regime with the Wii Fit on the blog, to make it more of a scheduled series of events and list how things are going. Someone at work came up with an excellent solution to the cross trainer rubbing the skin off my hands which I'll try – using the towelling that you can stick to tennis racquets, etc. Its another constant battle against my need for order and my want of disorder to keep the boring man inside me just quietly complaining to get out under lock and key.

We'll see what happens after getting back.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So, I'm back from climbing after a 2 week recovery period. My hands are looking like hands again; with skin and everything. It was a painful, distracted couple of weeks, especially at the start, but things have settled down and its not even keeping me awake at night now.

Its not really possible to wear gloves while climbing, at least covering the fingers and palm; so I just wear a cotton glove for the belaying; the previously white and non-torn glove now in my bag. Glad they're cheap.

So maybe things will work out okay – the climbing went better than expected tonight, with the highlight on getting up the corner wall on greens, over the lip and up without having to 'just bridge'.

The phrase of 'just bridging' came from when I was trying to get up that corner wall using only greens for the first time and ran out of holds to progress on. I asked one of the instructors on how to progress and he told me that I just had to bridge it. Which is climbing with a shoe gripping the wall on each side, doing the splits pretty much and stepping up. Just bridging. To be honest it wasn't too bad to get into the position, pushing a foot against the walls on each side of me. The trouble was what to do once I'd stepped up high enough to reach the hand hold. The thing about holding your weight on your legs against opposite walls is that you can't just move one of them and hang there. I was there for a wee while pondering this; then held onto the green rock with both hands and moved my foot to a nearby rock beneath. That was when my shoulder decided it wasn't going to simply hold my entire weight without a protesting, painful stretch. So I was there a wee while longer with a painful shoulder muscle before the following couple of steps to the top. It felt pretty good though to be honest; nothing better than confirming one's manliness than achieving something while in pain; like having a shower and having real dirt flowing down the drain.

Ah well, almost home.


So I finally start exercising; to try and lose a little weight, get something resembling a bicep on my arms, but mostly to give me more scope for wall climbing. My arms are the first things to go after a while of hauling my fat draped carcass up a wall. While you might say that this has more to do with technique and I should be using my legs more – if you are climbing up an overhang, good luck trying to hold on with your toes.

I am, much to my surprise, enjoying indoor rock wall climbing immensely; it can give you a real feeling of accomplishment to scale 15m of wall using only particularly coloured hand holds. I do believe that the initial deal I made with myself made a lot of the difference in how much I get out of it.

When in New Zealand, there are certain things you feel obliged to do. One of them is to throw yourself off a disturbingly high platform. After many brochures and leaflets, the Canyon Swing seemed that it would be more enjoyable than simply throwing oneself of a bridge. I really use the term enjoyable as the feeling while reading the leaflets of the safety within my hotel room. Standing on the platform 109m above the canyon river was the dose of high reality; as far as I was concerned I was throwing myself to my death regardless of the harnesses and cables attached to me.

I regale you with my tale of bravery (apparently, according to the Canyon Swing guide, I let out a manly roar while plummeting) as I realised after much thinking back that I had no trust in the equipment that would be hold me as carefully as the youngest child in a family of twelve and ensure that I would survive like the many thousands of people before me. So when I entered that indoor climbing centre for the first time, I made a conscious decision to believe that the harness and rope would indeed hold onto me – allowing me to not have to worry about anything except going up.

This also, by a welcome coincidence, allowed me to keep at peace while travelling in taxis in India; it was out of my control but many people had, apparently, lived through the journey before me. So it was no matter that I saw more of the front of buses than the back of them, I was relaxed and content to let the universe do its thing.

This all comes back to the title, as once again I seem to be getting in the way of myself. The exercise and climbing has really messed up the skin on my hands, eye lids and feet. It's itchy, painful and very distracting. So I hope to find a happy medium where I can keep going, unlike the squash which I used to enjoy very much but had to give up.

The Return...

This is being typed in on my new groovy, tiny and rather cool looking laptop; it is called a netbook, laptot or SCC (Small, Cheap Computer) – depending on the website you read. I've been waiting for these machines to appear for years and they took their damn time getting them out. Just enough of all that is needed to use a word processor, email and browse the web.

This is the Acer Aspire One – not the best battery life, nor the biggest screen; but it has a keyboard that is 95% full size. Having tried the eeePC701 and 901 in Office Works, and again in JB just to make sure, the keys were just too small to comfortably touch type. This version also runs Linux – which was specifically what I was after. Last thing I needed was XP wedged in. This one runs Linpus, which is Acer's own version and written specifically for the machine. It also makes it easier to add and remove features; this one has Compiz Fusion running on it, which is a 3d desktop. Unlike Vista, which I have the misfortune to have to use at work, which has a rather simplistic and particularly unuseful Flip3d as its claim to a 3d desktop, Compiz Fusion is a full 3d desktop. This entails, for example, that I am typing on one side of a cube that I can rotate round to different desktops. There is more functionality than you can shake a stick at – including my personal favourite – the wobbly windows option.

I am particularly fond of the screen, which is bright and clear – the resolution of 1024x600 is practical and suited to this machine's personal primary purpose, which is word processing. Can't say I was upset when I found a version of the C64 classic Paradriod in the package manager though.

The heart of the machine is the 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor. This is well groovy. The laptop that has been put into retirement as my portable is a 233MHz Pentium with 32MB of memory; it runs Windows 98 well enough and is smaller than the desktop replacement laptop I have at home – which sits beside the desktop. I still find it surprising, that no-one else is surprised by the fact that my old 233Mhz laptop takes about the same time to start MS Word as my dual-core 2GB memory PC at work. In comparison, even of the speeds that the motherboard can transfer data around within the two machines, the one at work should be on the cusp of going back in time. Instead I have to use Vista at work which doesn't respond to mouse clicks reliably and cannot even remove a folder correctly to the Recycle bin. A full list of bitching about Vista is likely to appear in the near future.

Having an interesting in techy things, I was a bit disappointed to find that I would need to take this laptop apart to add more memory – and I really mean apart. Remove keyboard, casing, motherboard, daughter board and all the rather fragile ribbon connectors in between. Maybe once the warranty has run out...

On the pleasant side though, it doesn't feel like the memory is really needed as the machine is running very smoothly. The sound from the internal speakers was also a pleasant surprise. So it's pleasant all round.

Now to get onto that novel; the real reason for the splashing out on this new piece of kit.