Happy Christmas from Richard, Jane and Skitters

Just a quick pre Christmas post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

2009 was the year that we finally got a dog, the lovely Skitters joined us 9 months ago from Shoreham Dogs Trust. Obviously, we think she’s the cutest dog in the country, and that everyone should own a picture of her.

So, we armed her with a plush santa toy (which miraculously is still in one piece), covered the sofa in a sheet, and I practiced my off-camera flash techniques learnt at my Garage Studios Flash course to produce 4 photos that we were happy with. A quick upload to the lovely people at Moo and a few days later I collected 75 lovely Christmas cards from the post office.

This photo, the composite, was used as the rear image, with the front showing a full size version of one of the individual photos. So, if you got one of these cards, I hope you liked it, if you didn’t, well, erm, sorry about that…

Finding new music

In years gone by I have relied upon recommendations from friends or buying compilation albums (like the Mercury Music prize album) to get an idea of artists I might like. Since March 2007 I have been scrobbling my music to last.fm which gives me some interesting statistical insights (like my 2nd most popular “artist” is BBC Radio 4 :-)) and tells me that I’ve listened to 10663 different tracks.

One of the features that I really like about Last.fm, is the fact that it gives me recommendations based on other artists I’ve listened to which changes over time as more tracks are listened to. In recent months I’ve used these recommendations in conjunction with spotify to give them a listen to, and in some cases this has resulted in me buying an album.

Last.fm have always been good at using the vast quantity of data that they get, and this year is no different. Over the past few weeks they’ve released the Best of 2009 list which is

the hottest and most popular artists of the year based on your scrobbles

I’ve taken this list, and created a spotify playlist made up of the Top 5 tracks for each artist mentioned in it. I’ve been listening to it over the past day or so and have found some promising artists I hadn’t stumbled upon before – The Fray and Metric to name just two.

If you need a spotify invite, then leave me a comment or drop me a line, I currently have 9 invites left.

Santa Dash 2009

After the awful weather of last year, it was a relief to wake up yesterday to a dry, if somewhat chilly, start to Santa Dash Saturday.

3 Madgexian Santas: Alex, Martin, Jane

In a similar manner to last year, I hooked up with Seb and we “dashed” around the course together. I’d set the virtual trainer on my Garmin Forerunner 205 with a 35 minute aim which was, if I’m honest, somewhat ambitious. I kept an eye on our pace and it was pleasing to watch the distance between us and our virtual pace setter increase (in the right direction). At the halfway point we calculated we were on about a 33 minute pace – last year I did 33:03 – so we kept on going. The last 1k was tough going, but we kept on and looking at the splits actually increased our pace before managing a “dash” to the line finishing at, a frankly surprising, 30:22.

Richard used his flip video to record some footage which is over at blip.tv (as well as below):

You can still sponsor our efforts.

Santa Dash Saturday

A recent, recurrent theme, seems to have been me mentioning that I don’t run much any more. After all, I have a dog to walk and she likes to play with other dogs etc. Well, that’s all fine in principle, except, well, I’ve been talked into doing the Brighton Santa Dash again. So, Saturday – that’s the 12th December – will find me queueing up with a collection of other Dashing Santas and running 5k along the seafront.

There are a collection of other Madgex Santas running, and Alex has kindly set up a Just Giving donation page to collect our generous friends contributions. So, go on, head on over, pop a couple of quid into the coffers.

Last year I managed a time of 33:03, this time as I’ve done a lot less training I expect to be slower. On the plus side, the weather forecast is looking more favourable 🙂

Hmm, this beard could get annoying

Skitters in action

On Saturday afternoon Skitters and I headed down to the walled garden (more properly known as the Rest Garden) to meet up with Alex and Dave. Dave had an idea for a short film for which he needed a dog. After a long discussion about her rider, Skitters agreed.

The finished film can be seen here and is described as

Unfortunate sausage-based arm condition siezed upon by an opportunistic dog

He sent us through a version when he had just cut Skitters out but hadn’t removed her blue rubber ball, which I have to say I love 🙂

Skitters Runs
Skitters Runs