I find that I have (once again) made it to the sunlit uplands of thirty.  On this occasion, I find myself forced to use base-17 for this statement to work, and would note that this is not one of the more practical number bases bequeathed to us by mathematicians past.  I suppose it could have some applications for a particular family of periodic cicadas – assuming that, once we are gone, they develop capabilities in the field of mathematics-  but otherwise it has little to commend it beyond permitting me to maintain a flimsy pretense of relative youth.  Otherwise, I would be forced to look to geology or cosmology to place my age in a broader, and more favourable, context.

At times such as these, it is perhaps appropriate to look back at one’s time on this earth and look forward to an end to travelling hopefully and the uncertain rewards of arrival.  However, if it is that sort of insight you are looking for you have very much come to the wrong blog in search of satisfaction.

Yesterday morning when I was from my bed untimely ripp’d by the 5am alarm, everything ached and I did wonder whether this was the future.  In fact, fairly simple analysis strongly implicated the past and my foolish vigour in the gym the previous morning.  If I’m honest, between the gym and the guitar, this middle-aged dog is making reasonable progress in his attempt to learn some new tricks.  Beware: should his mastery ever reach a level where he is confident enough to perform in public, he will be more than willing to bore a small (or, preferably, a large) crowd (and, it would seem, refer to himself in the third person).

For now, my faculties – such as they are (or were) – remain undimmed by the entirely unasked-for passage of time.  The hair may be greyer and I do need two pairs of glasses (though I have resisted the urge to take either into the shower) but, other than occasionally catching a glimpse of my father in the mirror, the constant near-misses by a speeding winged chariot have been pretty kind to the author.  (Well, if we ignore the fact that he is spending his Thursday evening in one of the less salubrious areas of Dublin airport – an area where bare aluminium is as close as a chap can get to seated comfort – awaiting a Q400 Dash 8).

I do, however, increasingly catch myself acting out a rather strange, almost caricatured, version of humanity.  Sometimes it feels as if I have done all the background reading, but lack some critical element of practical experience in the art of being a human.  On the whole other people don’t seem to notice – or are at least sufficiently polite (or scared) not to bring any failings to my attention.  Nonetheless, I can’t help wondering what they make of the strange collection of habits and tics (mostly borrowed, without attribution, from others) that, for what of something better, I am forced to describe as my personality.  Such introspection may not be helped by websites often asking me to confirm that I am not a robot.  I tend to reply in the affirmative: but can I really be sure?  Can anyone be sure that this post hasn’t been written by a sub-Turing AI?

It is such ponderings that bring us back to the title.  I have often been known to refer to myself as a terrible human being.  I tend to leave my audience to decide in which context those words should be interpreted (for myself, I tend to assume all possible contexts have some validity).  I suspect it is too late to do much to improve my simulation of a normal person – when I was younger, I felt I should make an effort (though never to a sufficient extent to do anything about it) to be more normal, but such impulses faded some time ago.  Still, there are probably a few “normal” human activities I should plan to fit in before I part company with my mortal coil: perhaps I’ll make a list one day…

Still, enough of this navel-gazing: the other passengers are starting to look at me strangely and this departure “lounge” really isn’t warm enough to remain topless much longer.  Here’s to the next 30 years – in whatever number base the gods are willing to grant them to me!

30, at last!

Yes, the irresponsible years of my twenties are finally at an end and I must finally face up to being 30 (though still some distance from being an adult).  It’s been a long journey – at least partly because I have chosen to make it in hex – but today I must wave goodbye to 2F (whilst, obviously, retaining two Fs thanks to my corrupted Welsh roots).

After thirty, there’s not much in the way of a landmark birthday until the telegram from the Queen.  Actually, telegrams are long dead and even the telemessage (I think) has gone the way of the dodo, so I wonder what you now receive on reaching your century.  A Tweet from the Queen?  Perhaps she writes on your Facebook wall?  Anyway, I’m not willing to wait and so during 2014 I shall be switching to base 7 so that I will reach 100 in 2015.

Don’t say you miss out on changing number-base humour on this blog – well, I have the number-base bit covered at least.

You might ask what I am doing (or have done) to celebrate this milestone (or, millstone).  My day has yet to involve cake, alcohol or candles – though some of these may occur later.  I did slightly upscale my morning porridge by the use of stewed apple, blackberries and extra-thick half cream – but otherwise it has been a fairly normal day.  Once you have seen 2F birthdays come and go, the novelty value does start to fade a little.  I did go into town and treat myself to a new colander (the handle has fallen off my old one) – I went for the cheap white plastic offering (a snip at £3) and the only option made in the UK (so I’ve done my bit for the balance of payments deficit for the day).  Given how thrifty I’d been with the colander, I bought a CD (I do like a bit of physical media) – Drenge since you ask – which I am listening to as I type (some proper, dirty rock which I assume is aimed at those in their very early thirties).

For the last several years, my birthday has always had a bittersweet edge and not merely because my feet are that bit closer to the grave (or urn) and some much needed rest (though I do worry that my insomnia may pursue me into the next life).  I am much younger (and I mean much younger) than my brother-in-law (I need to give credit to my sister here, she could easily have found a younger spouse but forwent that option for me) – and I do like to bring this up in conversation from time to time (well, it is becoming increasingly hard to find other older people for this purpose).  This always becomes more difficult for the (roughly) six months starting from today as our ages – as recorded in years using the traditional rounding down approach – are superficially the same.  I have to wait until September until there is clear, blue, integral water between us again (though, I am still much younger even now).

Actually, I am going to the flicks tonight, which you might like to consider a celebratory nod to my natal day, where cake is virtually certain and alcohol possible (candles unlikely – though if I keep forgetting to charge my bike lights, I may need at least one for the purposes of navigation and safety).  I am going to see a movie about vampires – well, it’s good to have a plan B in case my other attempts at immortality don’t work out (OK, not entirely sure if acting childishly and keeping this blog really count as serious attempts at becoming immortal – but I had to start somewhere).  Let’s face it, I’m not really a morning person and avoiding sunlight hasn’t been a huge issue in recent years – especially given my proclivity to holiday on the Celtic fringes of this fair (but damp) land – and I am only (mostly) vegetarian.  Plus, I look really cool in black and like to wear shades (my eyes have always been a disappointment to me – and the presbyopia really isn’t helping).

Getting my leg over

I like to think that I am in pretty good physical shape (I’d make no similar claims about my mental state) for a man of my age, after all I am shortly to reach the milestone age of 30 (and I’m doing it in hex which is definitely tougher than decimal.  Pleasingly, given my name, I am currently 2F!).  However, my day job is essentially sedentary requiring many hours to be spent hunched over a laptop.  This does have a deleterious effect on my posture and especially on my flexibility in some modes of movement.  I’m not even single-jointed, let alone double-jointed.

This inflexibility manifests in a number of ways as I go about my soi-disant life.  I find it quite tricky to look behind me when driving especially when reversing (luckily something I do very rarely) and I also find it hard to get my leg over my bike when I come to mount my metal steed – I normally try and use a kerb (or similar raised area) to gain a few inches.

Having somewhat successfully tackled my fear of heights, I decided this lack should also be tackled and so since the end of last year have been taking regular personal training to try and make myself more lithe.  This has meant the folk at Brightside PT have been making me do things while out-of-balance and often on one leg in an attempt to make me a tad more mobile.  This has been a slightly disturbing process, at least partly because the left and right sides of my body seem to belong to entirely different people: my body does seem to have been built from two previously written-off bodies in a surgical cut-and-shut operation (which does explain quite a lot, if I’m honest).  However, it is having results and I can now mount my velocipede without any difficulty (even when the rear panniers are full!).  Still, there is some way to go before I can consider myself as lissom as I would like.

As a some-time project manager, I know the importance of setting objectives – which should be SMART (readers will have to check for themselves what the mnemonic means as I have forgotten: suggesting it is rather a poor tribute to Mnemosyne).  Most folk when training set objectives based on increasing the weight lifted, the number of ‘reps” performed or the speed or distance one can cover in a particular sporting activity (or poor simulation thereof).  But, I am not “most folk” and this approach struck me as boring and so I decided to set some more interesting targets to achieve.  So after a little work with a search engine, I came across a number of objectives which I thought it would be amusing to achieve (not to mention, providing me with some unexpected and impressive capabilities for a man in his very early thirties to be able to showcase).  I produced a fairly decent shortlist in the hope that at least one of them might be achievable.  All the exercises would be considered functional, good for flexibility and my core – so meet my general requirements – though even I had my doubts about the achievability of the “human flag”.  My teachers, however, seem confident that I should be able to achieve three of my targets in time for the summer (subject to its availability) which should, in turn, act as a good basis to move on to more difficult manoeuvers.

So, by Wimbledon you can look forward to me performing one armed press-ups, one-armed pull-ups and pistol squats at any and every opportunity.  Just try and stop me!

This will all be great preparation for my future career as a rather tall and elderly gymnast and, in conjunction with my climbing, opens the door to a life in parkour.  I will also be in a strong position should I misplace any single limb – despite my avoidance of quasi-military organisations as a child, I always feel that it as well to “be prepared!”.