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Seeing Red

Recently, three years to the week that I became a taekwon-do student, I passed my red belt grading. It’s come along a little slower than it should have done and in that time there are several other students in my class who have overtaken me – even those who started well after I did.

I’ve never been too bothered about racing through the colour belt gradings in a particular time frame. As well as my instructor letting me know when I’m ready to grade, I’ve always had my own personal standard that I feel I should reach before I’ll consider testing.

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Rekindling an interest

For a long while I’d harboured the idea of acquiring an e-reader. I reasoned that I would be much more likely to read if I could take books with me in a format that would be more portable and also searchable. However, I could never quite bring myself to pull the trigger because, for many years now, I just haven’t had the compulsion to read books.

The last book I read was On The Road by Frank Skinner, over five years ago. Since then, my mother has bought me Michael J. Fox’s second autobiography (Always Looking Up) and, with grand intentions, I bought myself Richard Dawkins’ Greatest Show on Earth when it was released. I haven’t made it beyond a skim of the first chapter of either, despite the fact I do want to glean what lies between the hardback covers of each. I just haven’t been compelled enough to physically carry them with me on my daily commute when I would have the dead time to read them.

This perceived barrier to entry had also caused me to miss out on a number of technical books that I might otherwise have read and I had become acutely aware that, over the last few years, new techniques were passing me by. I used to jump at the chance of reading about some emerging practices in the Web development scene. If I look back ten to fifteen years on my Amazon order list it’s loaded with technical tomes.

But, somehow, I just got out of the habit of reading and I wasn’t sure that even if I took the plunge and bought an e-reader, I’d be able to sustain the urge to do so. After attending The Future of Web Design back in April I learned of several development books that I wanted to read and decided that I should at least give the e-reader route a try.

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Sleepless in Philadelphia

At the tail end of May I made my fifth visit to my mutually adopted family and friends in Indianapolis and it proved to be one of the best yet. After last year’s brief trip where I was only in town for a couple of days it was good to be back for a full week to soak up everything that’s great about race week in Indy.

I should have been there for a day longer, too, but the President visited Philadelphia right when my connecting flight to Indianapolis was due to take off, so they told us to get off the plane as we would be held up for an hour. This was disappointing, as the flight from Glasgow to Philly had been a breeze and I’d made it through security so fast that I could actually have made an earlier flight to Indy. There was certainly space on that plane, but the staff told me I couldn’t get on it because I had to fly with my luggage. It would later transpire that this was a rule with a considerable amount of bend in it.

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Another Burns season done and dusted

Me and Iain at his Burns Supper

In the years since I got involved in doing a turn at Burns’ Suppers, I’ve been to all sorts of takes on them. From the grand affairs with over 100 people packed into a splendid hall to those held in people’s homes. To me, so long as people enjoy a bit of Burns and have a good time, it doesn’t really matter what the scale or venue or conformity to tradition is.

My 2015 Burns season comprised of five very different events and I enjoyed each of them in different ways. Which is why I thought I’d give my account of them here, so that I might look back in years to come and be reminded of an almost perfect collection of ways to celebrate Robert Burns.

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