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Tough Mudder, time transparency, and making things pretty

Running

On a course somewhere in West Sussex, for Tough Mudder again. After sort of stumbling into it last year, I had intentions of not doing it again unless I was a bit more prepared. That’d didn’t quite pan out as planned, and I was probably even less ready this year but still – did it, survived, got the x2 headband. It’s a lot of fun, even the electric shocks and the barbed wire and the squeezing through tiny gaps covered in mud, but I don’t feel the need to do it again next year. ?

Reading

The myth of “making things pretty” by Mandy Michael. I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of referring to my job as “making things pretty” before. I’m not sure I ever really believed that was an adequate description but it was an easy and succinct catch-all for those times when going into a lot of detail felt unnecessary. I’ve probably done it recently too; I won’t be doing it again anytime soon – this post has made sure of that.

CSS by it’s very nature is about how something looks, how it’s presented, it’s tightly coupled to design and it’s because of this that we can often underestimate the impact that it has on making our projects functional. 

It’s important to remember that Design and CSS helps make things usable and accessible. This combined with all the additional coding is what makes something functional, you need both pieces of the puzzle to get there.


This article on the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is, in summary: “a 135-mile non-stop race over three mountain ranges in sweltering mid-summer desert heat with a vertical ascent of 13,000 feet”.

Yes, in preparation for the 10 mile Tough Mudder course, I have been doing some research, but the Badwater marathon is one I’ve been keeping an eye on for years. I first heard of it when planning our own trip to Death Valley (2007) and even after all these years it still sounds like the most ridiculous thing ever. Just walking around Badwater Basin in July was hard enough, let alone something like this. I’m in awe. Clearly, it’s not something I ever plan to do, but it’s good to know that if I did want to, I’ve still got a fair few years to get to peak condition..

This is also one reason runners in Badwater are, on average, older. The average age for Badwater 135 participants is 47 years old, with the oldest at 72. There are a few other reasons Bearden points to: as we age, we develop more of slow-twitch muscles that help on long runs. Psychological maturity comes with age. “Older people have a better understanding that the sun will come up tomorrow,” Bearden said. And it takes years for people to develop what he calls “craft”: the skills of ultrarunning and understanding the limits and needs of one’s body.

Listening to

99% Invisible 369: Wait wait.. Tell me! Predominantly about the City of Detroit Neighbourhood Improvement Tracker, via some great stuff about the psychology of waiting and the perception of progress. While the stuff in the episode focuses on the impact of rethinking things when it comes to demolishing buildings, it’s stuff that is applicable to so many other things.

I’m conscious that a lot of the time when I’m deep into a piece of work, I might not be as transparent as I perhaps could be in terms of sharing what I’m working on. I’ve been the type of person that is happy to share at the end, but doesn’t want the distractions half way through, and I feel like I’m not the only person in this industry like that. While there’s a benefit to that in terms of being able to focus on getting something done (and I wouldn’t want to lose that), there’s also a clear benefit to not being too insular.

A lot of it seems obvious when you say it out loud, but thinking about the impact you can have by simply being more open about progress, and what it means to accurately manage expectations, is fascinating to me.

Some of it worked its way into a talk I also did this week at work, partly about teamwork, partly about time transparency. Safe to say it made an impression.

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