Tag Archives: life

Life & stuff

So, how are we all doing? I know updates here have been pretty non-existent this year, but I’m pretty active elsewhere, and the longer you leave it, the harder it gets (fnarr). Probably safe to say the last 18 months or so haven’t been the easiest for me but I want to get things back on track. My dad’s estate is now sorted out: I finally got a grant of representation, paid off all the bills, got the energy ombudsman to tell EON to go forth and multiply, disposed of most of his guitars (apart from his oldest one that I want to get fixed up so it’s in half decent shape) and even ended up with a small amount of money left over that I split with my brother and put my half towards a new bike. That was particularly satisfying because the bike shop had a sale on and I got a much better bike than the one I had planned, reduced from £1300 to £850. A couple of weeks later it was back at £1300. That’s my kind of sale. Sorting out dad’s estate was hard work but I think it I hadn’t done it none of the bills would have been paid and his money would probably have disappeared into a bank suspense account, or worse, been appropriated by George Osborne as bona vacantia. Urgh.

Looks like I may have also finally ended up with a job at work that isn’t project based so I can spend time on developing in one single area. After nearly 11 years at the same company you do get a lot of experience if you do it properly, but bouncing between projects and being redeployed can be pretty disruptive. It’s become pretty clear that what I’m good at is web based development in front of chunky databases, with a bit of low level systems stuff and ugly maths in the form of stats. Consequently it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I didn’t get on too well with a support role earlier this year where the bulk of the work involved installing patches and doing basic sysadmin work on Solaris systems. On the project I had before I was getting pretty intimate with the Google Maps API and doing weird and wonderful things with Oracle business analysis functions so it was a bit of a change. Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re good at and enjoy is to try something that you don’t get on so well with. I’m back to doing Oracle web development for now and the new job (still with the same company) starts at the beginning of August. I’m not sure yet exactly what I’ll be doing but it’s in a department that does secure networking stuff. Doing stuff in-house is cheaper and better than buying it in from companies like RSA, but muggins will have the job of creating it.

I tend to react to stress by being susceptible to colds, and over-eating, and it’s probably safe to say I’ve had quite a bit of both. Since 2010 I’ve put on quite a bit of weight but I’ve just started to make the changes to what I eat that I’ve done in the past to bring it back down. I’ve got a fair bit of bulk to get rid of so it won’t be quick, but I’d like to get back to my fighting weight. Wish me luck…

Bored, LS18

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.

Delayed Segue

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 k425 and oldbloke are interested I can report back and let them know.

Quack and, er


Swan and Duck
Originally uploaded by mhoulden

What noise do swans make? Went out for a walk on Saturday to try out the new camera. After about 3 miles it was so cold that the batteries stopped working, but I did manage to get some photos of rather chilly looking waterfowl.

Trying to summon up the energy to write a long blog post about training and plans for the year. Various things including the weather mean I’m not entirely sure what they’ll be yet, but I want to put something down now kind of as a marker. I’m also seriously beginning to think about writing that book, not just as a diary of my weight loss over the last 3 years or so but also to include my take on things like nutrition, motivation and weight loss. I’m guessing the next steps would be to draft a sample chapter and find a publisher. I could probably get an idea of who to contact by having a look round the health and sport sections of Waterstones next time I’m in town. Dunno how many people would buy it, but I daresay it would be more interesting than most of the risible “new age” ones there are out there.