Triefle, Prairial, 227

Learning things

This week has been a bunch of learning experiences, both from mistakes and from things I just hadn't had time to engage with. Despite the enormous arrogance I like to portray I actually really like learning things so I'm always grateful when folks take time out to tell me things I hadn't thought about or when I can make the time to go engage in new ideas.

I went down to the Shades of Noir event at Camberwell last week which was really exciting. The history of the different campaigns to increase diversity in staffing and increase opportunities for non-white students at UAL was something that I had been tangentially aware of as an operational matter but hearing about the thirty-five year history of these projects and the energy of the folks involved was great. The event was to celebrate the creation of fifty-five new positions across the university aimed specifically at broadening the diversity of our staff. Please go check them out.

I still hate writing

I managed to get a big piece of writing for a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy done this week which is a goddamn relief. I’m pretty open about my dislike for writing. I don’t much enjoy the process and sort of dread committing to writing things. However, I’m a vegetables before meat kind of guy so I spent my Sunday chucking out just shy of 6000 words into an application. Once I’m in the flow of it, it’s actually quite easy (though still not as enjoyable as say a day-long Civ VI bender or watching Lord of The Rings back-to-back). My writing approach is similar to how I mentally romanticise smithing to be, which is largely drawn from YouTube videos:

  1. I start with just throwing out a bunch of words in relation to the topic, just completely off the top of my head. 
  2. After around 1000 words, subsections start to appear and I’ll reorder the paragraphs and put in temporary headings that indicate what should go in each subsection. 
  3. I’ll then iterate over each of these subsections, adding, deleting and removing to get the right ideas in the right subsections (usually three because three is neat and I’m a neat person). I’m still a dedicated GCSE history student so each paragraph follows the PEE model (Point, Evidence, Explanation) and I’ll try and get each subsection to around the same length.
  4. I top and tail this with a loose introduction and conclusion which usually say what the text will be about and then reflects on what it was just about. 
  5. Then it’s just repeated rapid iteration to look for any obvious gaps, cut down on word count (I always aim to go over and trim back) and make sure spellings, references and styling are consistent. 

I had a Skype with a co-author for an upcoming chapter yesterday so I guess I'm a sucker for punishment.

Ride w/ me

The other week, on a whim I resurrected my keirin bike which had sort of been languishing in our bedroom despite being my pride and joy for many years and doing hundreds of miles with me. God what a joy to ride! The last year or two I've been cruising around on a soft steel mid-50s path bike with a three-speed internal hub (which is deeply practical, comfortable, hard-wearing, fast when I need it and I get to wear normal shoes). Riding something that's a tenth of the weight and built entirely to go five hundred miles an hour is a great feeling. 

Anyway, I bombed around Battersea yesterday (which showed me how much stamina I've lost since I used to do sixty mile rides twice a month) but have no-one to ride with! I sort of lost contact with my old riding buddies so if you're in London, ride a bit recklessly on a track bike and want to hang out please let me know.

Bike tube

Which leads me on to a channel recommendation. Terry Barentsen has a channel of great bike vids. There's a series where he just rides with folks around their home city; no music, no bullshit just following a rider around while they occasionally talk to themselves. This is a great one with Mexican professional cyclist Ana Puga.