Monday, 25 February 2013

Camera for Return to Base Camp

I just realised that I never got around to writing about my new camera that I will be bringing on my return to Nepal. Previously I'd just had a little Fuji Trek pocket camera which was good enough outside but utterly dreadful indoors and in poor lighting.

So after much deliberation I picked out the Sony NEX 5RK. This is my first "real" camera with interchangeable lenses. I chose this model because I want good performance in all conditions, fast shots, and lightweight. If a camera is too heavy and/or clunky I won't carry it around and what's the point of that?

I also invested in three 16Gb ExtremePro SD cards plus a spare battery and camera case.

And finally, I bought 2 C-clips which I have attached to the camera case so that I can suspend it from the belt loops on my hiking trousers, thus ensuring that my camera is always ready to hand rather than buried in my rucksack or bouncing off my boobs (another argument for small/lightweight cameras!).

Tip o' the hat to my hiking buddy Nigel from Creative Photography Wales who spent two days squiring me around Wales and teaching me how to use the damned thing both in terms of where functions are but also covering light, composition, focus, aperture v. shutter speed, white balance, iso, etc. Now I'm no longer reliant on auto-everything settings!

Unfortunately I now know all about the vast array of lenses and other expensive tidbits like filters and tripods that I need to buy. :-( But at least the photos from the next ABC2EBC Challenges should be much finer.

And don't forget to donate to The National Museum of Computing at my Just Giving page where all donations go to the museum

Oh, and I'm immensely pleased with my choice. It's a sexy bit of kit; very satisfying to use and beautiful results.I'm thinking about getting a small tripod so that I can do some time laps photography of the sunrise over Everest from Kal Pattar.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Project Manager Availability

Bit of a bugger this but my project is due to end at the end of March. So if I do my job correctly and everything is delivered on time I will be out of work at the end of March AND not have a project/team to run from Everest Base Camp! Not good. Worst timing possible really as I'm back to Nepal in April and shan't be back until mid-May. :-(

So anyway, if anyone has some software projects coming up and need a capable PM or test manager/trainer/business analyst and would like to experiment with improving communication leading to a percentage of remote working, please get in touch!

In the meantime my hikes for this weekend have had to be cancelled as I am now officially in the "death march" phase of my project and working wacky hours 'round the clock. Ironic, isn't it? Bleeding professional ethics, that's the problem!

More cheerful news is that I have written my presentation for the AIIM conference next month. Maybe I can pick up some work there? Pity it's in New Orleans though as I'd prefer work in Europe.

Monday, 4 February 2013

London Mystery Walk

Saturday I was supposed to attend the Exploriens Lewes Castle & South Downs walk but I overslept (I blame the jaunt to the Mile End Climbing Wall the night before) so rather than do no walking at all I joined Anna B and Magda H at the London Hikers Westminster Mystery Walk which was meeting at 3pm (far more civilised) by Covent Garden tube.

It was a good sized group at about 35 (plus the odd party crasher like myself) a few of whom I of course already know from other walks/hikes. We headed off from M&S, with the first stop at Bow Street Magistrates Court.

Bow Street Magistrates Court is famous in particular for the Bow Street Runners but I leave it to the reader to click through for further info. Our guide explained to us that the reason the lights outside of this police station are white instead of the usual blue dates back to Queen Victoria finding the blue light upsetting because her Prince Albert died in a blue room. ::shrug:: I'm dubious.

Anyway, the Magistrates Court is across from the Royal Opera House and there is a lovely statue dedicated to all of the ballerinas.

We then went west to Lazenby something or other. Alley I suppose. It was interesting because there were original gas lamps there which are run off of the methane that is bled form the sewer system.

We then went down past the English National Opera toward Trafalgar Square, passing London's narrowest Alley along the way.

Thence to Trafalgar Square where we heard a bit about the history of the square and Nelson's Column. I had had no idea how recent all of it was/is!

We then went up Pall Mall a trifle, passing the British Council and the touring statue of Yuri Gagarin (with a very strange Moebius orbit thingie).

We then walked up by the Royal Society to hear the story of the statue to the Duke of York as well as the statue of Florence Nightingale. And some mulled wine.

Then it was across the Mall to Horse Guards.

At which point the battery on my camera died so I had to resort to using my iPhone. :-(

So a quick wizz past Downing Street to the Cenotaph.

Down past the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Past the memorial to the Terrorist Attack in Bali and across the road to the Duck Pond House

Then down to Westminster Abbey

Through the Dean's Yard, the around the back to the Houses of Parliament.

Then off to the Silver Cross Pub for drinks and a pub quiz. Not the lengthiest of walks but it was ruddy cold and I was aching from climbing the night before so probably just as well, eh? I'd also say this walk was more touristy/history than mystery but hey-ho. Still good to be off the sofa and out with mates.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Health Prep - Blood Results Are In

OK so I have some issues with my health that I am trying to address before I go back to EBC. Here's the sitrep...

Back - After the fall in Phakding last November my back is slowly healing. I've been going to the Back Clinic at my local hospital for treatment. I'm not too convinced that it's helping much. I think what's making it get better is just time and gentle exercise/stretches. I'm told by the guy that my L5 S1 is damaged. Who the hell knows? I think they are all shysters but at least it's on the NHS. Anyhoo, I went climbing with some friends on Friday and I'm really aching all over so I think I'll try to incorporate this into my weekly routine to build core strength. It was good fun and it's cheap enough plus I think it's a sort of natural progression from the hiking thing.

Crohn's - Thanks to my friend Ivan (who has a promising future as a Jewish Mother), I have been nagged into yet again seeking treatment for my Crohn's. To this end I made the journey to East Acton to meet with a specialist from Imperial College London at Hammersmith Hospital. He ordered blood tests and I am scheduled for some nuclear investigations to check my bile and (oh joy) a colonoscopy (the less said abot that the better).

So far only the bloods have been done but the results are interesting with a CRP level of 7 (VERY high), and low iron and Vitamin D. The Vitamin D thing is probably because it's winter time and I've been working from home plus I'm fairly careful about wearing sunblock. My trip to Marrakech next week should sort that out. The low iron is of more concern, particularly with a return to altitude looming. Low iron translates to low oxygen levels in the blood, a problem that will cause fatigue at sea level and will only be exacerbated at altitude.

I haven't yet had any feedback from the doctor about supplements or injections or whatever the anaemia but at least in this household red meat and liver are going back on the menu (we had cut back out of environmental concerns).And I will keep a bag of frozen spinach in the freezer so I can nuke some to accompany my dinner each evening.

I guess what I'm saying is that it might not be a bad idea to see your doctor and get your bloods done as part of your prep for a trek of this type.

Smoking - The big elephant in the room is my smoking. I've downloaded an app that's supposed to help me wean myself off the fags by tracking my smoking. Not sure precisely how that's supposed to help. ::shrug:: What I need is something that not only tracks my smoking but gradually extends my time between smokes, sounding an alarm when I can have my next one. If anyone feels like finding or making one of those for me it would be much appreciated. I haven't found one and wonder if there could actually be a gap in the market? In the meantime if there is any progress on this front then I'll post it here.