April 2023

Cast off

Started the month off right by getting my cast off! What an ordeal this has been. The hand was absolutely grotesque for the first day post-cast-removal: shedding skin, pale and bony, barely mobile. By the evening, I was able to hold a can of beer in my hand, however—a titanic feat (for me) at which I couldn’t help but exclaim to Sam. She didn’t care.

The healing bone has left a minor bump on the side of my hand, but you wouldn’t notice it unless I’d brought your attention to it. The pain in the bone itself is mostly incidental—when I bump it or flex it in the wrong way. Tightness in my wrist is the main trouble for me—putting weight through my wrist is still a no-go, and even leaning idly on e.g. the countertop in the kitchen gives me a pang if I hit it at just the wrong angle. The pain’s in a totally different spot from the broken bone, which makes me think it’s just a question of a bit more stretching, a bit more light strength work, to get it back to where it needs to be.

I can type and use a mouse (mercifully!), I can ride a bike, and I can haul groceries, and those are my three main hand use cases anyway, so I’m pleased as punch.


Spent some more time outside this month, as the days extend and the weather ameliorates. What a difference a bit of thin, watery, April sunlight makes.

A trip up to the bothy at Polmood served as the first excursion with cast-less hand—and with Ghyll no less. The enclosed garden around the bothy was perfect for him to run about in, and an idle football generated literal hours of fun for the little guy. We brought his crate with us as well so he had a place to settle down for quiet time while we ate, and he gleefully fell asleep in front of the fire when the sun went down.

I’ll admit I went into the trip with a bit of trepidation, both for my hand and for Ghyll. There are a lot of sheep about, and he’s a curious fella without much concern for animals that want nothing to do with him. But it all went off without a hitch. We even took him up into the hills above Loch Skeen and the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall. Had to keep him on the lead the whole time, but he tackled the fells with aplomb and gazed amidst them like one of those shaggy hounds on the front of shortbread tins. Good lad.

Got in a run while I was out there, climbing to the top of the forestry track below Broad Law. Exhaustion set in at that point and I turned back for the trek downhill. Expect a more glorious result (nothing short of the summit of Broad Law) on our next trip to Polmood.

The 59th Fellsman

Marshalled in our usual spot on the top of Great Knoutberry again for the 59th Fellsman. The Fellsman is a 61-mile fell run through the Yorkshire Dales, and the Great Knoutberry checkpoint sits on top of the eponymous hill at the end of an out-and-back around mile 29. By this point the runners are well & truly tuckered out, but arrive with smiles and good cheer to have their tags punched and their number counted before the long descent off the fell.

Sam and I had our Vango Xenon tent for the first time this year, with all of the creature comforts that its massive vestibule entails—making for this year’s vigil on the hilltop a decidedly more comfortable one. Bringing a pair of camp chairs certainly helped. It was foggy for the better part of the day, though the wind was mostly well-behaved and we had a blissful interlude around the golden hour where the mists retreated and the Dales could be glimpsed in all their pastoral glory. This was probably the point of highest morale for the runners before their long march through the foggy dark ahead.

I remember that at our previous Fellsman, in 2021 I think, that I considered a challenge like the Fellsman to be wholly outside the realm of possibility for me—that ultramarathons were for the hyper-fit, the borderline-unhealthy. But something about this year’s Fellsman filled me with a vigour for the punishing outdoors. I spoke to septuagenarians running their 27th Fellsman, to newbies who'd never run more than 20 miles before but who reached our checkpoint with zeal to spare. I don't think that the challenge is quite within my grasp right now, but it's near enough that I could maybe give it a go with a little more training. I think the 60th Fellsman might be my year. Watch this space.


Not going to say much about this because everyone else seems to be talking & writing totally w/o surcease about AI, but now I’m trying to learn about it too.

It seems like there are increasingly two camps of AI-literate folk:

  1. people who make AI: those who write, configure, and train neural nets (e.g. people who work at OpenAI or Meta), and
  2. people who use AI: those who hack their productivity and abilities by writing great AI prompts (e.g. regular old GitHub Copilot subscribers, but also prompt engineers).

Maybe the second could be split in two.

Anyway, while every second hot take on the web is concerned with how and when AIs will make jobs obsolete, I think there are going to be tons of new jobs created in both of the categories above. I think I’d like to be in the former camp, since my work is sort of funelling me towards thinking about systems in Python anyway, but I’ve got boundless respect for those in the latter, because it requires a creativity that I don’t think will ever be abstracted away, no matter how clever artificial intelligence gets.

And that was April. Bring on the springtime.

Monthnotes AI Running Polmood Ghyll


USS Yorktown

The USS Yorktown, a decommissioned WWII-era aircraft carrier, is probably only worthwhile to the staunchest of naval warfare fans.