Today’s the day the Virgin Money Studio’s Movember ‘taches go to that great barbershop floor in the sky. Those fund-raising follicles leave us, knowing they created a huge pot of £1,029 (over £1,150 with gift aid) supplemented by auctioning the Studio’s various creative skills within Virgin Money. See the Virgin Money Studio Movember page for the glorious result yourself.
And if raising money and awareness for men’s health issues wasn’t enough, we also created history. Big Paul, the Virgin Money Studio’s answer to Hagrid, pledged to shave off his 40 year old moustache if we raised over £1000. The smashing of the target was marked by the buzzing of an electric razor wielded (somewhat shakily) by Jason, our Head of Traffic, and Big Paul’s upper lip tasted fresh air once more.
Yes, I did. And nine, count ‘em, NINE minutes faster than last year, a new PB.
Trumpet blowing aside, it was helped in no small part by running with Virgin Money colleague Jem Walters and his sister (on her first half marathon). They helped me keep a good pace which worked well until halfway through mile 11 when I suffered a power cut. Jem and his sister disappeared into the distance as I staggered around the last few bends and that ****ing hill that leads back to the finish line on the Norfolk showground. I did receive more encouragement at this point, as people could see the light fading from my eyes and someone even kindly read me my last rites as I clung onto a bin after scraping over the finish line. Luckily for me, Team K appeared with my Goo-Goo Cluster from Dylan’s Candy Bar which restored life back to my wheezing frame.
I should mention my Virgin Money Studio colleagues who ran this too – Rob (The Fastest Man in Virgin Money™) who came eleventh(!) place out of a field of 2,166 and Andy Bobbin, who forged a half marathon PB of one hour 32 minutes.
Again with the New York thing? Yep.
On our second trip to Gotham:-
- We stayed at the über trendy YOTEL;
- Enjoyed fabulous burgers with fabulous beer (Brooklyn Ale, ShackMeister Ale and McSorley’s Pale Ale);
- Saw the sights we didn’t last time (Ground Zero, Top of the Rock, Greenwich Village, a daytime Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge);
- We walked the High Line;
- We shopped like a pack of wolves;
- I indulged my half-marathon training schedule with two runs over Central Park;
- Joe had a skateboard lesson;
- Eve got a new hair do;
- Eve and Mrs K went ice skating in Central Park;
- We did all of the above under cloudless skies;
- We saw Orlando Bloom and David Byrne (not at the same time);
- I gasped at the Batmobile waiting at traffic lights;
- Joe and I went to the Paul Pope exhibition at MOCCA;
- We got arty at MOMA;
- Heard “LOVE your accents” twice;
- And had our last meal at Carnegie Diner (our favourite).
Pictures on Flickr, and Facebook if you’d like to see the full gory details.
Well, it had to happen. After all the charity days we’ve had at Virgin Money and the various sums raised by Studio members running the Virgin London Marathon, it shouldn’t be surprising that the boys in the Studio have finally got around to participating in Movember.
For those of you who aren’t aware of this extremely worthy cause, it involves the raising of money and awareness of men’s health issues (such as prostate cancer and testicular cancer to name two) and all you have to do to take part is not shave your upper lip for the entire 30 days of November. Apart from raising money for a worthy cause, Big Paul, our perma-moustachioed colleague, has said that if we raise over £1000, he will shave his moustache off on November 30th, thereby exposing his upper lip to the world for the first time in 40 years. His wife Elaine has already donated a significant sum to speed that along, much to the amusement of the rest of the Studio.
My moustache is coming along fine (I can grow hair anywhere, except my head) although I’m not sure if I look like a dodgy ’70’s Detective or a German porn star. I asked my wife what she thought I looked like, but I can’t repeat her answer as I try to keep that sort of language out of this blog.
The Virgin Money Studio Movember team page is here if you’d like to donate, which would be very nice of you. As my wife hates my burgeoning ‘tache, I’ve directed her to No-vember, a clever site that accepts donations to the cause, without Husbands/Partners/Boyfriends freaking out their other halves by morphing into walruses.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’d been invited by fellow Mozilla Webmaker Mentor and first lady of EPIK, Dorine Flies, to help out at the Maker Party she’d organised for the Kent Scouts International Jamboree 2013. Number One Son Joe and I headed southwards to the garden of England the night before in readiness to rise at cockle-doodle-doo-o’clock on Friday morning. Wearing our pure white Mozilla Webmaker t-shirts, Dorine, Joe and I aided by members of Team EPIK set up shop in a hanger size tent with 20 laptops donated for the occasion by those lovely people from Toshiba.
Our Maker Party was led by Explorer Scout and boy genius Mozillian William Duyck, who conducted the assembled Scouts and Guides through introductions, warm up games and paper prototyping before they got down to the serious business of having fun, making movies of their Jamboree week using Popcorn Maker. Joe busied himself with his own project, while I, and several other Mozilla Mentors Dorine had trained weeks earlier, hovered helping out with questions and technical support. Also on hand was Mozillian Melissa Romaine (who organised the launch of Make Things, Do Stuff a brilliant initiative between Mozilla, Nesta and the Nominet Trust that I mentioned here).
Despite the overheated wifi dying and regenerating more times than Dr Who, (it was baking hot inside, which is why we held some other non-tech sessions outside) the Scouts/Guides were able to finish their creations and save them to their respective Webmaker pages. It was fantastic seeing our new Webmakers creating with Mozilla’s online tools, tools they’d only got to grips with earlier that day.
A big thank you to Dorine for organising this event and inviting me to help out. Although maybe next time we should do it somewhere cooler, like maybe the surface of the Sun?
The nine-week Mozilla #teachtheweb mooc I’ve been on finished last week and I can now celebrate achieving my Mozilla Webmaker Mentor status (and with a cool badge to prove it too, above). As ever, I’ve been slow delivering my last two makes (projects) as the past two weeks have been really crazy at home/work, (I know, excuses, excuses) but they look like this…
For week eight’s Make It Real we were asked to invite people we care about to explore the web with us. This is something I’d kind of done for week seven, as I’d playtested my Webmaker class ideas with my family. So instead, I will be making my first contribution to the global 2013 Maker Party that runs from June 15 to September 15, by volunteering to #teachtheweb at the Kent International Jamboree 2013 summer camp with fellow Webmaker Mentor Dorine Flies.
Week nine’s make #teachtheweb #4life asked for a portfolio of makes and posts to apply for the Webmaker Mentor badge. As I have already earned mine, I have instead joined the Making Learning Connected (#clmooc) to learn more about Connected Learning. I will remain active in the Mozilla Webmakers G+ community, where I’ll keep contributing and sharing my #teachtheweb activities. I have a Webmaker session planned in September with my son’s scout troop and my next step is to approach local libraries to see if they might be interested in allowing me to run Webmaker sessions on their premises.
My #teachtheweb #4life starts here…
In an effort to become a proper runner, I have entered several (er, three) races since running the London Marathon. I ran the Dereham 10 in a decent time (for me) and was really looking forward to running the Humpty Dumpty 10k at Reedham, especially as it’s sponsored by the local brewery of the same name and promised a pint of it’s finest ale at the end. Since I didn’t get a pint of London Pride at the end of the London Marathon, that was incentive enough to enter this race. My last long training run had gone well and I was fully recovered from the Man Flu that had stolen a weeks training for this event. The runners knee I’d developed by running interval runs training for this race had quietened down, so all the signs were good. And it was a beautiful sunny day – what could go wrong?
OK, I’ll tell you – first, I forgot to take my traditional energy gel right before the start. Secondly, I forgot to pop a carb tablet into my mouth before we set off, which left my mouth drier than a 250 page report on car parks in the UK and thirdly, I started with the serious runners and set off too quickly with them in a burst of macho madness. This went well enough until the three kilometre point and it’s beautiful, beautiful water station, when all of my energy decided to go on holiday. I struggled on through the wind, heat and the hills (some slight, some not, but in my state, all cruel) but I was helped by the newly-arrived clouds occasionally masking the blazing sun with the gusty wind that brought them. By now, however, my face had become hotter than Christina Hendricks in swimwear. The remaining race was like something out of a desert war film starring me as the soldier in the middle of the Sahara, dragging his camel along and keeping his spirits alive by thinking about his sweetheart. Or in my case, the pint of Humpty Dumpty I was going to jump into when I staggered across the finish line. Finally, at 58 minutes and 33 seconds, my steaming, sweaty, delirious, hallucinating being did just that, four minutes over my PB. It was easily the hardest race I had ever run, mainly because of the heat. Mrs K said that everyone seemed done in as they crossed the finish and unfortunately that was proved to be the case for one runner who collapsed right before it.
As I met my family I was given my goody bag but no medal, but never mind, eh, as I did receive my quality race momento, a bar towel with ‘Humpty Dumpty 10k 2013’ emblazoned on it. Hmm. Heading for the t-shirt stand to get myself a proper souvenir, I was told they’d sold out of t-shirts in my size (I decided then that I would make my own t-shirt that said, “I ran the Humpty Dumpty 10k 2013 and all I got was this lousy bar towel”). Swallowing my t-shirt disappointment, I set off to the beer tent for my real prize, a pint of Humpty Dumpty’s finest ale. As I stood in the queue, my body quivering with anticipation (or it may have been cramp) I overheard the barman say they’d run out of beer. We couldn’t go into the village hall bar as we had our dog with us and as she wasn’t allowed on the grounds around the village hall, we left and celebrated in the Blofield McDonalds car park, after getting drive through.
Mo Farah, eat your heart out.
I have, until recently, been good about turning in my #teachtheweb Webmaker makes (projects) on time, but a brief bout of man flu and advanced analogue activity dented my usual productivity. But I’ve finally caught up this week – I finished my lesson plan for a Maker Party (week five’s Webmaking as Learning make), so I was then able to ask other Mozilla Webmaker mentors for their feedback (week six’s Peers Working in the Open) before taking their comments on board and hosting a Playtesting Kitchen Party last night at home for week seven’s make. Phew!
Working from a print out of my lesson plan (something I would try not to do for a real session), I began with a little warm up asking my audience if they knew the difference between the internet and the web – was there a difference? And if the internet was a person, was it a man or a women (unsurprisingly both my wife and daughter thought it would be a woman). And if we could look inside it, what would be making the internet tick? For a real session, I would ask participants to create a drawing illustrating their thoughts, but because I was keeping this session brief, we just discussed it instead, but it still generated some great ideas.
Gratitude Dept: Many thanks to Mozilla Mentors Michelle Thorne, Heather Angel and the aforementioned Dorine Flies for feeding back on my makes and helping me to improve my lesson plan. And as a result of this week’s endeavours I’ve been awarded my Mozilla Mentor Badge, which made me very happy. My next make is this week’s Make it Real where you #teachtheweb to people you care about, which, I guess, you could say I’ve done here. But I want to to make it real properly with either an expanded Kitchen Party or maybe holding a session somewhere in my community. I’ve approached my son’s Scout troop to see if they would be interested in a Maker Party with Popcorn Maker and they were. However, that won’t be until September, so I will try to run something else sooner.
Last week, I came across a story on the Mozilla Webmakers G+ community posted by Chris Lawrence detailing Kat Brybrooke and Dorine Flies experience of running a Webmaker station at the Make Things Do Stuff launch. After reading Kat’s great post, I scooted over to the Make Things Do Stuff website and promptly had my mind blown.
Make Things Do Stuff is part of the growing global movement of organisations like Mozilla Webmakers, who want to inspire young people to move from being web consumers to web creators. They want to make young people’s desire to learn to code a reality and, in their words, to “mobilise the next generation of digital makers”. They’ve partnered not only with Mozilla, Nesta and Nominet Trust, but other influential digital educators and enablers such as Codecademy, O’Reilly and Facebook (they have the blessing of Chancellor George Osbourne too, as evidenced by his attendance at the Make Things Do Stuff launch). These partners share the Make Things Do Stuff values of understanding digital technologies, learning through making and working in a open and collaborative way. They believe these skills should be spread across all sections of life, not just for web or budding web developers, but teachers, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, journalists, filmmakers, musicians and artists – only a society that can talk to technology can help to create an amazing future for everyone.
Their website is full of really clever, simple learning resources of their own as well as other great resources donated by Mozilla, Codecademy, Decoded, Udemy and Code School. As a graphic designer and part time front end developer, I was smitten not only by this plethora of great content, but also their fun, colourful graphics with their cheeky CSS animations.
Make Things Do Stuff are after more organisations and individuals to mentor and advocate their mission – interested? Why not say hello and get involved.
PS. I did and not because one of their characters looked a bit like me (above, second right).
All images ©2013 Make Things Do Stuff.
Last week I had to leave my fellow Moz-keteers behind and swashbuckle alone to ponder on the theme of add the web to anything. Hacking a Thimble template created by the Mozilla Webmaker team I made this page listing the learning goals and web literacy skills I’d like to teach. I did find it a bit daunting collecting my thoughts and listing the ways I might teach young people to create for the web – especially when there are so many other, more experienced voices on this #teachtheweb mooc who have articulated their goals far more comprehensively than myself (such as Margaret Powers’ brilliant Helping Others Hack Learning (and Coding). However, #teachtheweb has a really supportive G+ community and I’ve already had plenty of great feedback and support from community members, including Margaret Powers herself.
On a separate note, I was also flattered to see that not only were two my ‘makes’ featured on this weeks Webmaker blog, but that my Webmaker introduction was featured on this week’s Teach The Web page. Wow!
It’s really inspiring how the world is now waking up to educating the web makers of the future and #teachtheweb is a great movement to be involved with – if you’re interested, just visit the #teachtheweb get started page.
As part of this week’s theme of the open web, I had to create a make with other budding Mozilla mentors on the #teachtheweb MOOC (Mozilla/Massive Open Online Course) to communicate what the open web meant to me. I ‘reached out’ for collaborators and wondered if anyone was crazy enough to work with me. Well, crazy or not, the request was met by Pekka Ollikainen of Finland and Karen Young from Canada. We three Moz-keteers planned on making an animation to illustrate our thoughts on the open web. We discussed what it meant to be open and how openness, collaboration and iteration have contributed to the snowballing success of the web. Karen had some other thoughts on the open web which you can read here.
After getting together on Wednesday, we set ourselves a deadline of the weekend to put forward ideas. Pekka contributed an animated gif about the perils of a closed web and how an open web is better; Karen sent over colour sketches illustrating how unexpected collaboration creates new ideas, and how sharing spreads this further and I made a typographic idea illustrating that the web has many faces, is constantly evolving and that it is open for everyone. Ideally, we wanted to put something together in Popcorn Maker, but we were running out of time to post something for Tuesday’s deadline, so we amalgamated all of our thoughts as they nicely dovetailed and I put together a little animated gif which you can see here (we are going to look at re-making this in Popcorn Maker and adding sound). It was really great collaborating in this way with people I’d only just met, working across three different timezones. Thank you, Karen and Pekka!
This weekend, the Norfolk Showground turned pink again as over 7,000 ladies of all ages (and their dogs) turned up to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s fight against cancer. I’m proud to say that one of their number was my daughter Eve, who’s been training hard these past ten weeks to get herself ready to run the 10k race, the furthest she’s ever run.
Eve was running for her Grandma (my mother-in-law Pat) who died suddenly of a brain tumour last summer. As you’d imagine, it was a very emotional day. Mrs K and I both found ourselves a bit tearful turning up and seeing the word cancer everywhere. It was sobering knowing that everyone who was running had had their lives touched by cancer. However, it was a great atmosphere, helped by the presence of Heart Radio, who hosted warm up sessions and sing-a-longs to get everyone pumped up. Eve did really well, finishing the course in one hour and ten minutes (her time didn’t matter, but now I’m a runner, I get a bit obsessed with race times) and raised £951 for Cancer Research UK. Once across the line we all hugged and cried, a sight common at Race for Life and one you can be quite cynical about until you’re involved raising money for a loved one.
Other highlights included the aforementioned dogs effortlessly running with their owners, the Army cadets at the finish line dancing to Mambo Number Five in unison like something out of a West End musical and the fact that Eve and her boyfriend Bobby, both got photographed for the Heart Radio Race for Life 2013 web page.
Evie, we are all so proud of you – Grandma would have been too.
This week’s #teachtheweb theme is the open web – we have to create a Make about why being open is important to us and collaborate with a fellow Mozilla Mentor. So, if you’ll excuse me me, I have to go make myself presentable and find myself a fellow Mentor crazy enough to work with me…
After running the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, I made the rash decision to keep on running. Having discovered, via the medium of black toenails (pictures on request) that I’d run the marathon in the wrong trainers, I decided to buy some new ones. Two weeks ago, after a great lunch with Team K in the Reading Rooms, we walked just a little further up Nelson Street to The Runners Centre where we left with new trainers for me and Number One Son. I also left with a list of upcoming races in our local area. I thought that if I was to continue running, pounding the pavements solo was not a good idea. So, I signed up for both the Dereham 10 (miles) and the Humpty Dumpty 10k. I’d planned on having a ten mile run on Sunday, so the Dereham race was a good fit. However, when Team K arrived at Neatherd High School, the start and finish line for the race, I was quite shocked to be confronted by a sea of serious runners (including Ellie Matthews, one of the fastest runners at Virgin Money). These people not only made me look silly before any running started, but also made me feel completely inadequate as nearly all of them went for a quick spin around the playing field to warm up. I passed this off by explaining that crying and looking like you were about to wet yourself was the usual way that I warmed up. Gulping down my panic and trying to ignore the middle-age gentlemen massaging their bare buttocks in the registration area (hey, it’s a free country), I counted the butterflies in my stomach to pass the time before Team K escorted me onto the main road for the start.
I was right at the back of the field and fiddling around with my iPhone running app when the race started. And no, I don’t recommend starting a race by wrestling an iPhone onto to your arm while trying to look where you’re going at the same time. I started with a group of ladies and was unsure how to pace myself, but I realised, given the competition, that I couldn’t really start as slow as I might have liked. So I left the ladies behind and slowly picked off similar runners one by one to get into the swing of things and to ensure that I didn’t finish last. After a while I met a group of younger women, who after a while I overtook. However, one of them, who looked uncannily like Davina McCall, kept pace with me. Just as I was wondering how I was going to run ahead of her before she left me for dust, she asked if she could run with me. Gasping in the affirmative, we both started chatting about our reasons for running, how we’d both done the London marathon and what a difference running had made to our lives. It was great, we both kept each other paced and she told me our times on her Garmin and congratulated me on my (now) best ever 10k. We kept on like this until two miles from the end when the hill and wind on the final approach caused her to slow. Waving me on, I left her and finished the final stretch on my own. Mrs K suggested I try and beat my ten mile training time of one hour and forty-two minutes, but I beat that by eight minutes. I was really pleased as you’d expect, especially as during the difficult last two miles I developed two really painful blisters. I finished in 191st place out of a field of 216 (Pete Johnson, who sold me my trainers, finished 28th) and Lisa, my pace maker, crossed the line in 193rd place. It was a great experience and my first proper race amongst some serious runners. And next time, I hope to do better.