Coffee +

A few things I want to say about coffee.

I write this because there’s a notable difference in meeting people to discuss ideas, solve problems and agree on outcomes when people either have or haven’t had coffee.

I often warn people upfront “I’ve had coffee, so if I start whatever, let me know”.

What follows are a mix of subjective and objective observations with coffee providing a route to use for the worlds most popular drug, Caffeine.

Positives of coffee

  • Helps achieve a level of mental alertness “on-demand”.
  • Good black coffee has been considered to be a positive fuel for your microbiome.
  • The ritual around getting or making coffee has social value.
  • A good coffee tastes damn good

Negatives of coffee

  • Coffee makes my mind a little tight. The best description is that it doesn’t allow for space in my mind, I become wired to a thing or a thought train. This can be useful in a result oriented sense when needing to get from A to B with some technical operations, but outside that focused use case, I consider it a negative.
  • If I were coffee shopping and I could choose “no Jitters”, I would. Some coffees make me feel completely on edge, jittery, heart palpatations, all sorts.
  • A bad coffee tastes the worst.
  • A badly judged late coffee hit will mess with your sleep. This is NOT okay. Sleep is crucial to a happy life for me and staring at the ceiling is not something I’m a fan of. I have in the past subjected myself to intense anxiety over loss and the result of that is not something I’d recommend for anyone.

This is just a light heaerted post and not meant to be an exhuastive list of all the good and bad effects of Coffee and Caffeine, but I do find the social effects the most troublesome which created the motivation to write this.
I imagine most of the world is more social in their working and daily lives than me. My professional life demands large quantities of “me time”. When I come out from that zone, a poorly timed coffee for either me or my co-workers often makes life more difficult than it need be.

Take care

Fractured 5th Metatarsal experience

Greetings all,

Over Christmas I managed to snap my 5th Metatarsal in a Snowboarding accident. The accident happened just before NYE in Chamonix and resulted in this pretty mess
It matters not how I did it which was far more rubbish than you might imagine, but more to the point how long it’s taken me to recover and I wish to offer up my advice to anyone as unfortunate as myself to experience such a rubbish and debilitating break in their foot.

To give you some perspective about my physical state, I’m a keen gym go-er and keen cyclist. I was training for the Caledonia eTape until the injury and was in Base 2 of my training working up to 12 hours or more on the bike at that point. Being very active and training around 2 hours a day, 6 days a week meant that this injury presented me with some pretty big challenges physically and mentally.

6 days after the fracture I had the foot operated on by Eoin Baldwin who did a fantastic job in re-attaching the splintered bones with two fixing screws. That was the complicated bit out of the way, the rest was down to me and my body’s healing process.

In Jan ’12 it was pretty cold in the UK, no more than normal, but still, cold. After getting up in the morning I had real trouble keeping my foot warm in the bootie cast that I had on. It was far from painful and I stopped taking the codeine based painkillers 1 day after the Op. It simply wasn’t hurting enough for me to want to take them.

Sadly, 2 days after the Op, I came down with the Flu which was kindly given to me by one of my holiday buddies. That was horrid, being club footed and Flu’d up all at the same time was one of the most rotten feelings ever. 4 days later I was starting to feel human (albeit club footed) again.

No-mans land ensued. I was signed off from work but still completely mentally able. 12 days after the Op, I returned to work – a couple of days earlier than recommended, but I was going nuts and had a lot of work on. I struggled after the journey to work to keep the foot warm still. After a 07:30 get up, by 10am my foot would be uncomfortably cold and I’d try my best but would fail in trying to warm the thing up until I got home and had a bath with one foot hanging out the side.

As soon as I was back to work, I was back at the gym too. I’ve read elsewhere that other people have completely avoided all exercise to ‘let the body do the healing process’. I honestly disagree with that. This implies that they think their body can only do one thing at once, or it takes power away from the healing process by your body doing anything else. For example your body has 100% of ‘healing power’ and by doing Strength Training on your remaining functional parts of your body, you are detracting from that 100% ‘healing power’ by diverting some of that healing toward the applied stresses of Strength Training.
Assuming you are eating ‘well’ taking into account you are what you eat and you’re eating ‘enough’ which I think would be easy if you’re doing Strength Training with limitations i.e. your lower body is out of action thanks to an injury like this then for me there is no reason to lay back and sit still for months waiting for a bone to fuse.

I’ve ranted briefly on this as I had ALOT of arguments with people telling me I shouldn’t be going to the gym whilst I had the injury. Notably, none of these people were people who, without being harsh, were people that ate ‘well’ or had a good physique or good relationship with food or exercise so their advice fell on ears which were not tuned in to their concern.

I will stress though that you should not attempt any lower leg exercises. I did.
Leg Extensions using the Leg Extension machine were the only exercise I felt comfortable using both my legs so as not to train only one leg and cause imbalance.
I suggest you avoid these too as although there’s no direct stress on the foot in any shape or form, after my news which I’ll talk about in a moment, I suggest disengaging your temptation to use your lower body at all for the time being.

Some 20+ days after the Op, I visited the Hospital for a follow up x-ray only to have the Surgeon stand in front of the light box and utter ‘Oh’. That short noise was the last thing in the world I wanted to hear.




That ‘Oh’ was the realisation that somehow I’d managed to pull the repair apart so the two fixating screws were although aligned but holding the bone with quite a degree of separation again.

It was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard and was very very upset and depressed for a couple of days.
Because the up down and side to side alignment was actually okay meaning the functional operation of the foot was looking okay, the decision was to leave it be for a while and see how it was looking in another 2 weeks. Now, just to mention here, there was expected to be some fusing already, which there wasn’t either because I’d split it or simply it hadn’t started.
The problem with the 5th metatarsal is it’s a small bone, it’s also about as far away from your heart as you can get in your body, and is on the outside of your foot with a relatively small amount of blood flow.
These are all facts that worked against me.

This leads to my first piece of advice.
KEEP YOUR FOOT VERY WARM! Never let the foot go cold.
Cold = No blood flow. No blood flow = No healing.
Do whatever you have to do to keep your foot warm at all times. This includes your Thigh and Lower Leg as they’ll be supplying the blood to your foot. Long Johns, super big socks and over sized slippers are all good things. In emergency perhaps some chemically activated hand warmers stuffed into your foot may help. Make this your personal priority.

My second piece of advice
Do nothing that puts your foot under any pressure until your surgeon advises you otherwise
I cannot state how important this is.
Getting up out of bed puts pressure on your trailing foot, be careful! Getting up from being one legged in front of the fridge and unknowingly the supporting (broken) foot that’s out behind you is put under top side pressure to help with the one legged get up.
Falling over, which I did too many times and hated every one.
Not using any lower leg gym equipment, no matter what muscles you think you are aren’t working. It simply isn’t worth the risk or a re-op or a situation like mine with a mis-aligned bone.
I cannot state how difficult it is to exist with only one foot on the ground for months at a time.
I cannot explicitly state which moment cause my repair to separate. There were plenty (too many) moments including the falls which put far too much pressure on my foot and it could have been any of them.

Lastly, Do Exercise!
Do Upper Body strength training. Unless you have one of those upper body cycling things you’re not going to be able to do any cardio, so simply engaging your upper body will stop you going nuts and keep some resemblance of your physique.

After three months I’m out of casts and actively load bearing without crutches now, but I’m awaiting my next x-ray to see the state of the repair and will update this post when I have that aswell as thoughts on muscle loss and diet during that recovery period.
In the meantime. Good luck if you’re going through this too!

Ciao! x

Don’t you go to Goa

As luck would have it, my plans for trekking in the Himalayas got stunted due to the time of year that I was able to go, but the result of that is that I’m going to be spending New Year and the most part of January in Southern India with a close buddy of mine.

Ironically, having been a disciple of the Goa Trance scene back in the early 90’s, it’s only now, almost 15 years later that I’m actually going to visit the place that spawned the idea’s that made Youth, Alex Patterson, Chris Decker, Mark Allen, Goa Gill etc etc bring back the intoxicating hedonistic vibe that was so prolific, at least for me, back when I were a nipper.

Luckily though I’ve no particular pre-conceptions for the trip. Don’t get me wrong tho, I won’t be saying no to a New Years party in the hills behind Anjuna if Goa Gill’s putting the smack down with some 2010 trance business.

My stay is mostly intended to be a relaxing chillout on some sandy beaches in between the hectic work and study schedule I’ve set over the next 8 months. I’ve got my camera and a lovely new Wide Angle lens and hope to capture some stunning images which I’ll definitely be sharing on here on my return. Whether Indian culture has that intention for me though is still to be seen, but whatever which way, it’s going to be an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

CCIE R&S Study, now started

So with about 50 days till my CCIE written and 225 days till my slated lab date, I’ve started the journey to my biggest certification goal yet, and one that I hope will prove a bit of a life changer.

I’ve got my lab almost complete bar a couple of WIC-1T cards and tidying the cables up once it’s final, but for the most part it’s done.

It’s a mirror of the INE CCIE v4 Topology, and I’ll be using a combination of INE, IPExpert and CBTNuggets to prepare for both exams on the kit. The only exception to the topology being that I’ve used 4x 3560’s (2x PoE and 2x Non-PoE) rather than 2 x 3550’s and 2 x 3560’s and my backbone routers are 2611XM’s rather than 2501’s.

This lot cost me something in the region of £3000 to setup and is kindly hosted at work so I don’t have to listen the lot of it whirring away and worry about where to put it all.

It’s all hooked up with APC7920 Switched PDU’s so I can remote power it all off and on when I want it. Nice. So enough of the showing off of my large investment in my career, I’m off to get down and dirty with some Frame Relay.

UPDATE May 2013.

I can’t believe it’s three years since I started this journey already. I never guessed I would have not even finished my CCNP at this time let alone not even had one shot at the CCIE yet back then.

Still, the progress is that the Lab is updated and up to scratch. Here’s a piccy of it’s current layout.

It’s a proper looky likey of Stretch’s PacketLife.Net lab.


So here I am re-doing the ROUTE study so that I can prepare to attempt the TSHOOT exam before my time expires in August this year. I deal with Routing Protocols so infrequently that I need a full re-hash of the subject knowledge so I’ve started as early as I could to get things moving.
Fingers Crossed!

TSHOOT and CCIE Written

Damn, it’s been a month or two since I posted. Internet neglect, I should be punished.

Anyhoo, Re: my last post about failing the ROUTE exam, I re-took it a fortnight later and passed! Well chuffed. The exam was notably different from the first attempt that I made, though there was a couple I remembered from the previous attempt, but worse still, I knew I’d not completed one of those Simlet questions, I knew what I needed to do, was trying to attempt it, but was getting nowhere trying to apply the configuration! Pretty much how I felt the first time round, though I did have an extra arrow in my bow, but even that wasn’t being accepted. Dang!

So that said, I’ve booked my TSHOOT exam for Dec 3rd and just to make it easy on myself I’ve booked my CCIE Written for Dec 17th, 2 days before I fly to Goa for Christmas! I really really want to book my CCIE Lab before I go away for holidays so I can get as cheap a flight as possible to San Jose next Summer. It’s all quite an ask, but I think given the time frame I’m enthusiastic enough to achieve it.

If I’m quiet in the next couple of months, you know why now! No doubt I’ll find something quirky I want to keep in the public domain I’ll post about though.

I hope to have some great pictures from India too, so I look forward to sharing those in the new year.

Be Cool!

P x

642-902 ROUTE exam

So, I took this exam last week and failed. Scored 777/1000 and needed 790/1000. Harsh, but fair at least. There’s a reason there’s a pass mark and I got shown up by the labs on a couple of areas, which of course I’m now addressing.

I spent 2 months prepping for the exam which I thought was fair time given I hadn’t touched routing protocols – and routers really – since my CCNA back in ’06. It’s a hard exam, but not impossible by any means. Read the exam description on the Cisco Learning website, if by reading that you notice there’s no RIP, IS-IS or Multicast in the exam description, that would be a fair assumption. The depth of knowledge on the remaining topics that are questioned in the exam is noticed though. I would get a full grip on all three routing protocols remaining in the exam as it will test you, quite thoroughly.

So I’m re-sitting the exam this coming Friday and feel this time I’m fully ready as I really hadn’t grasped a couple of concepts completely and that was what let me down on the day. I’ll be having a couple of weeks of to rest and not study every night and then straight onto TSHOOT for sometime before Christmas, then dare I say it, CCIE written in early ’11..

On a side note, since I’ve been wanting to have more actual consoles open on my lab, I’ve taken to using SecureCRT rather than PuTTY. The multiple tabs are a breath of fresh air like when browsers started shipping with tabs, and means I don’t have to use my access server’s escape sequence to swop between consoles and miss output that I’m watching in debugs. Very cool, for me at least.

So, must dash, OSPF labs today.
Be Cool.
P x