Dejected of Fulham

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I ran the Treeathlon 5km race today in a new personal best of 21m 27s. That’s a full 75 seconds faster than my previous best. I put it down to the fast, flat course in Battersea Park (and figured had I not had the week I’d just had, I could have run even faster).

After the race, I looked at my Garmin GPS watch more closely to find that it had recorded the distance as 4.7km. I’ve also been trying out the new Nike+ iPhone GPS app and had set that off at the start, and it too recorded 4.7km. Two different devices, same distance recorded, makes it likely that they’re right, and the race distance was wrong. I ran home the long way and the devices agreed again, on a distance that I know having run it dozens of times.

Sadly, then, there’s no new PB. Had the course covered the full distance, I think I would have needed all of those extra 75 seconds, and probably a few more, to make it home.

The question, though, is why wasn’t it a 5km course? Did they measure it incorrectly? Did all of the runners in front of me take a wrong turn and miss out 300 metres of course? Was this an effort at a feel-good conspiracy? Will this be a new trend ahead of the Olympics designed to make all Brit runners feel like they’re getting faster?

Crowd Sourcing Running Photos

The Internet is a wonderful thing. 18 months ago I wondered why there wasn’t a service where you could upload photos that you’d taken whilst watching a marathon or some other race. Turns out there is, and it’s 3 years old today, much predating my musings.

You can find them at 42run.com. All you need, if you’re a runner, is your bib number – you can then search against all races they’ve covered.

When Upgrading Can Break Your Business Model

At a government department where I work, the drinks machine, known affectionately as R2 (it is quite the most wonderfully complicated drinks dispenser ever invented), has received an upgrade, of sorts. The old R2 charged £1 for a bottle of diet coke (or any other soft drink). In a dozen simple steps it found the right bottle, took it from the shelf, arrives back at the dispensing slot and lets go.

If you put a £2 coin into R2, you’d have thought it would dispense a single £1 coin as change. No, it returned: 50p, 20p, 20p, 10p. With everything priced at a pound and most people paying £1 (I imagine, R2 rarely ran out of change.

Presumably as part of the cost saves, or as part of a revenue driving initiative, the price has now gone up to £1.10. Now what happens with change? Few people will likely carry the extra 10p so I can imagine routine payments being £1.20, £1.50 or £2. R2 will have to dispense more change and so will run out of change – and thus cease to function at all more often than it has to date. Only Dan could work out the likely frequency of this so I will leave to him.

That would all be fine, to some degree at least, but all the fiddling around to change the prices on each drink seems to have disturbed R2. Since the price upgrade, R2 has been in all of a dither. You put your money in, he goes to the right drink slot, grabs the drink with his robot arm, levers the drink out of the slot … and then drops it. He’s no fool so he knows he’s dropped it … or maybe he’s not sure that he ever had it, so he asks you again what you want. This goes on – fetch, drop, fetch drop – until you get bored and ask for your money back.

For the sake of 10p a drink, the daily average revenue from R2 has dropped to zero.

On barrels

The difference between french-style oak and Piedmont-style oak … 225 litres versus 10,600 litres. The former are usually new every year, the latter are 50 years old in this case. Both are used to make Barolo.

That’s not a barrel:

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This is a barrel:

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By the by, for French oak, the trees have to be around 150 years old. That was the legal minimum until a few years ago, when the age was lowered slightly, sometimes to around 120 or 130 years old. And for one majestic 150 year old oak tree, you will be lucky to get three oak barrels – more usually two. Of course the off-cuts go into making furniture and other wood products, but that still means a lot of tree for a little barrel.