My jogging segments: How fast?

Sometime ago, I felt I was running faster than a plod, so I picked up pace over a riverside section that might, I reckoned, be a Strava “segment.” A Strava segment is a user-created route that invites Strava users to measure themselves against others. Cyclists seem to use them a lot, with work commuters trying each day to beat others on short road sections.

At the end of that jog, I looked up my Strava performance and, sure enough, I had a new personal record on a 1.9-km segment called “Yarra Boulevard to Burnley.” I’d run it in 11 minutes, 33 seconds. Hmm, how well do I compare? It turns out my outing that day was ranked 2,294th out of 2,833. I was deflated but then looked up my 55-to-64 age bracket. Refreshingly, not many old runners tackle this segment, for I was ranked 25th out of 38. Yes, the fastest old runner had done it in 7:32 minutes, 50% faster than me, but I was not the slowest, not at all.

How wonderful the modern world of data!

Writing Big Year: Blerggggh

York’s two-and-a-half days of Chapter 5 drafting: the left image shows plot points covered, that is, three; the right image depicts plot points undrafted, i.e. heaps. Not a grand result, though part of it is due to collapsing a big 1953 tale into a short aside, something I’m glad I’ve done. An empty feeling . . . not because I “underachieved,” but because tomorrow we start a seventeen-day trek across England, the Coast To Coast, and right now all I wish is that I could sit back down to write more, but I cannot.

Cycle? Read this?

To you, the perennial non-cyclist, does cycling seem imbued with romanticism, the allure of effort, speed, ascent, ground covered, the world all around? It does to me. David Coventry’s The Invisible Mile fictionalises Australia’s participation (with one New Zealander) in the 1928 Tour de France. Our book group Novel Men struggled somewhat with the feverish eloquence of the author, but the novel sure does convey the risks and sacrifices of long-distance cycle touring!


Foer’s Eating Animals made a huge impression on me and now, after a decade, he’s back with a “big” novel a la Franzen, etc. I have a “big novel” in me also (doesn’t everybody), the hard part is getting to it (and doesn’t everybody say that?). 2019 is tentatively the Writing Big Year when I hunker down to draft it. In the meantime, I’ll buy Here I Am and swoon. (By the way, Alex Shepard’s GQ article is way neat.)

York work

Here I be. Home during daylight hours for half of Thursday and all of Friday and Saturday. The plan: speed-draft Chapter 5, based on plot cards. I don’t think I can do it. I think I can do it. I don’t believe I can. I believe I can.

Word and Ulysses

Like many people, I’ve been tied to Microsoft Word for decades. In the past I tried various alternatives but none worked well enough. Word is comprehensive, robust (though for many years it wasn’t, I used to save documents often to avoid losing them) and quite easy to use. But now I work across hardware enemies – a Windows desktop and Apple phone/tablet – and Word began to irritate me. Syncing with Microsoft’s OneDrive was so, so slow, and the iPad version of Word was okay but only just okay.

Ali Dawes introduced me to Ulysses. What a revelation! I’ve now switched to doing all my drafting on the iPad (and occasionally the iPhone!), eventually porting my words back onto the desktop’s Word (a bit clunky but okay). What do I like about Ulysses?

  • It’s a typing program with a really clean interface that encourages wordsmithing. (It has many more features, such a markup language, which I’m slowly absorbing.)
  • It syncs, using iCloud, really fast and seamlessly.
  • The way Ulysses organises folders and documents (they’re called sheets) is very logical yet flexible.
  • Everything about it is modern, cool and useful.

That first feature, the way it encourages me to write just like a pen does, is the one that sways me. I can’t recommend Ulysses highly enough.

Beware of mosquitoes and frogs

Oh, I love this. Artist Dolan Geiman (check out his amazing website), interviewed in Danielle Krysa’s Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas.

Q: When do you get your best ideas?
A: Usually when I’m just waking up. I think it’s because the brain is in a state of rest and has no real outside distractions. It’s easier to pull the ideas out of the swamp when the mosquitoes and frogs aren’t jumping around.

One of Dolan’s works is shown, with his permission.