One Year, one week and a day…

I took this photo 374 days ago, after a chest biopsy. The doctors had detected a large something in my chest that was causing me difficulty breathing. I had a few dark months not being sure which direction things were going in, I couldn’t even walk down to the shop to get lunch without pausing to catch my breath, and I was being told I should prepare myself for bad news. I was injected with radioactive fluid, put through a large electronic donut, and had bits of me taken away for examination.

Fortunately, it turned out the something was a non-malignancy known as sarcoidosis. The cause is unknown. There is a theory that it is an auto-immune reaction, triggered by perhaps an infection (or stress, or grief, or tiredness, or not stopping). It produced a granuloma in the lymph gland in my chest which was pushing into the lungs. But it had appeared to have stopped getting bigger.

So one year, one week and a day later, the sarcoidosis has receded. I look a bit older, but I have given up sugar and alcohol, lost a big chunk of the weight I put on, have seriously reassessed some priorities,  I’m writing every morning and on Friday last week I ran for twenty minutes straight without stopping.

With a bit of luck and application, I might even try a half marathon in the autumn.

Hope all is well with you guys.

Be kind. Be useful. Et cetera.


The Running Novelist

“When I think about it, having the kind of body that easily puts on weight is perhaps a blessing in disguise. In other words, if I don’t want to gain weight I have to work out hard every day, watch what I eat, and cut down on indulgences. People who naturally keep the weight off don’t need to exercise or watch their diet. Which is why, in many cases, their physical strength deteriorates as they age. Those of us who have a tendency to gain weight should consider ourselves lucky that the red light is so clearly visible. Of course, it’s not always easy to see things this way. I think this viewpoint applies as well to the job of the novelist. Writers who are blessed with inborn talent can write easily, no matter what they do—or don’t do. Like water from a natural spring, the sentences just well up, and with little or no effort these writers can complete a work. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category. I have to pound away at a rock with a chisel and dig out a deep hole before I can locate the source of my creativity. Every time I begin a new novel, I have to dredge out another hole. But, as I’ve sustained this kind of life over many years, I’ve become quite efficient, both technically and physically, at opening those holes in the rock and locating new water veins. As soon as I notice one source drying up, I move on to another. If people who rely on a natural spring of talent suddenly find they’ve exhausted their source, they’re in trouble.”

Haruki Murakami

Kill it With Fire: why Gamification sucks and Game Dynamics rule

“Want to make people run? Don’t give them a badge for running. Give them a ball and shove four sticks in the ground. They’ll run around the field chasing the ball (and each other) for ages. The experience is intrinsically challenging and amusing, and the running is a by-product. Games rely on dynamics like these and rules to generate the conditions for positive engagement.”

Philip Trippenbach

“Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance”

“Fortunately, these two disciplines—focus and endurance—are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training. You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. This is a lot like the training of muscles I wrote of a moment ago. You have to continually transmit the object of your focus to your entire body, and make sure it thoroughly assimilates the information necessary for you to write every single day and concentrate on the work at hand. And gradually you’ll expand the limits of what you’re able to do. Almost imperceptibly you’ll make the bar rise. This involves the same process as jogging every day to strengthen your muscles and develop a runner’s physique. Add a stimulus and keep it up. And repeat. Patience is a must in this process, but I guarantee results will come.”

Haruki Marukami

Race Horse First Film Ever 1878 Eadweard Muybridge

“This Race Horse was the first Film ever, filmed in 1878 by Edward Muybridge.

Eadweard J. Muybridge (pronounced /ˌɛdwərd ˈmaɪbrɪdʒ/; 9 April 1830 — 8 May 1904) was an English photographer who spent much of his life in the United States. He is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion which used multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip.

By 1878, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion. This series of photos taken in Palo Alto, California, is called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop or The Horse in Motion, and shows that the hooves do all leave the ground — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when all the hooves are tucked under the horse as it switches from “pushing” with the back legs to “pulling” with the front legs. This series of photos stands as one of the earliest forms of videography.”