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He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

100 ParkRuns

Yesterday I got to 100 ParkRuns, about 15 months after I joined the 50 club.

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Now the long hard slog for at least three years to get to 250.

Still, it's a nice way to start the New Year.
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No, He Bloody Doesn't

This is Oz. He's my little Indian Ringneck Parrokeet and he's eighteen years old.

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If you look back through the dusty cobwebs of my site, you'll no doubt find a picture of Oz in his younger days. Despite his age he still looks as wonderfully green as he ever did - and I think he's still got a good few years in him yet. This is the joy of having a parrot. As life companions, he's already outlived most cats and dogs. Many ringnecks make 25. Whichever way you look at it, he's been my feathered friend for nearly half of my life.

Having a parrot isn't like having a dog or cat, for many reasons. One reason is that invariably, when I tell someone that I have a parrot, their first question is always the same:

"Does he talk?"

When posed this question, I politely respond that he doesn't.

All parrots talk is one of the great misconceptions of the animal world. Most don't. Why should they? This follows roughly the same line of logic that all humans are astronauts. Some humans aren't capable of being astronauts. Some humans don't want to be astronauts. There are also more male astronauts than female, although that's an entirely different discussion.

My parrot is a capable astronaut. He just doesn't want to be, so he makes a variety of suitable alternative noises instead. Sometimes he grumbles like an old man (no idea where he gets that from). Sometimes he makes noises that sound like flatulence (definitely don't know where he gets that from) and sometimes he just happily observes the world going by, like in this picture. Parrots, like you, have a personality and you can't force someone or something to do something it doesn't want to do. Putting a helmet on a bird doesn't make it an astronaut.

Bear in mind that should you ever want a parrot, you're making an exceedingly long-term commitment. Larger birds live longer - we're talking forty, eighty or more years in some cases. Unlike many other animals, they've not had generations of domestication and as a result the relationship you build with the bird is on an entirely different level. You're not going to train a bird to sit, stay or whatever in a few days. In fact, most things seem to take years. That's not because they're stupid and have a bird brain (another entirely different misconception), it's because that wild animal you have in your house is going to have to trust you first. Oz still surprises me by doing new things every so often. In the last six months, he thinks he's doing me a favour by pulling the stubble out of my face (ouch).

In summary, don't think of parrots as birds that talk, think of them doing a whole variety of other things. They whistle Star Wars tunes, chew your CD collection, hang upside-down from the ceiling, play football and drive buggies. Think of them as toddlers with a pair of pliers welded to their face or clowns with wings. How does that sound? Great?

If you'd like a friend with wings in your life, do your homework and find a breeder who really knows their stuff. The UK Parrot Society can help you. Or alternatively, adopt a rescued bird. Please don't go to a pet-shop.
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RavensPi Update

Remember RavensPi, the Raspberry Pi-based car-audio-thing I did a while back? Of course you do. Well, now it's been updated! (The new version is on the right)

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When the Pi Zero was released, it presented an ideal opportunity to transfer the project to a smaller unit - with the only caveat being that the Pi Zero doesn't have a headphone socket. To get around this, I've used Pimoroni's pHAT-DAC to provide the audio. It's a dedicated audio-processing unit that delivers higher-quality, punchier audio in comparison to the original Raspberry Pi. If like me you're absolutely useless at soldering, you can also use their GPIO Hammer-Header to connect the boards together.

You can download the updated image that's been configured for the Pi Zero and the pHAT-DAC here (319MB download). Once downloaded, you'll need to write it to a Micro-SD card, just like before. Many tools exist, but if you use a Mac I can totally recommend ApplePi-Baker if you don't want to get your hands dirty on the command-line. Once on an SD card, just expand the image to fill the card, fill with music and add the tracks to the default playlist in MoC. Enjoy!
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Where Did The Time Go?

Oh hell, it's August. Doesn't the time pass quickly? Read More...
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M.I.N.D. Over Matter

Well, I'm pleased to say that January is finally over. My total running milage for January was:

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As you can see, I managed to reach my target of 100 miles. Am I chuffed? Definitely - and despite my legs feeling a bit tired, I could've carried on for a few more days. As the end of the month approached, I started to get faster again. My resting pulse is now insanely low. Nonetheless, some sports physio to soften up my calfs of steel before my next "thing" would certainly be a good idea. If there's something I've learned during the last month, it's that a normal training regime needs rest days. REDJanuary ended up not being tough because of the distance, but because I had to go out every day, irrespective of the shitty January weather.

It's at this point that I'd like to thank anyone who's pledged sponsorship to MIND (click the link, there's still time) and gave encouragement and support, especially my virtual-running chum @LeoLasagne. He kept the motivation coming and really made me feel like he was running with me, despite living many miles away. Well done to everyone else who took part too. At the time of writing it looks like MIND have raised over half a million pounds, which is amazing.

I'm now going to take a break for a couple of days and then start gearing up for my first half-marathon of the year. Thanks for your support!
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