The long road back to health

A nice wee stop in Kingsbarns to update my playlist

On 6 June 2018, I made the decision to leave my two roles—web architect within the digital communications team and warden of Agnes Blackadder Hall within student services—at the University of St Andrews and strike out on a new adventure.

My plan, such as it was, was to take a few months out to focus on my health before plunging back into gainful employment. The previous two years had been rather brutal on my health

Disc breaks

Those plans came to a shuddering halt two weeks later while my (now late) mother was visiting. As I got up off the sofa I felt an excruciating pain across my lower back and I dropped to the floor in agony. I couldn’t stand up; I crawled upstairs to bed. I knew that something terrible had happened. A few days later my physio confirmed that I had herniated a disc in my spine. L5.

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Using Zoom polls for planning poker in Agile teams

Planning poker cards
Planning Poker cards from Mountain Goat Software

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about using planning poker in Agile teams, for estimating user story size. But that was when we were all sitting in the same room and not shielding from Covid-19.

Things have changed now. Here are a few options that I’ve tried.

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It Doesn’t Matter Two (lockdown version) by Libra and special guests

One of the beautifully creative things that this global pandemic has offered the world are the number of truly astonishing musical collaborations that simply would not have happened otherwise.

This is amongst my favourite. Masterminded by metal producer-songwriter Libra, he brings together nine artists to create this epic, orchestral-sounding version of the Depeche Mode song “It Doesn’t Matter Two”.

Featured (in order) are Shaun MacGowan (My Dying Bride) on violin, Eicca Toppinen (Apocalyptica) on cello, Libra on vocals and drums, vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen (Devin Townsend, Vuur, The Gathering), Aaron Aedy (Paradise Lost) on guitar, Caleb Bingham (Five Finger Death Punch, Athanasia), Don Aires Pereira (Moonspell) on bass guitar, Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative, Silvertomb) on guitar, Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) on vocals, and Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know) on guitar.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all these lockdown collaborations could be released as a musical record for 2020 and 2021. Hmmm… there’s an idea. I should create my own compilation album of my favourite lockdown collaborations.

The police visited me following up a possible Covid breach that wasn’t

Original photo of Police Scotland officers in face masks by AFP on BBC News

Last night, around 17:30 there was a chirpy knock on my door. I opened it to see two police officers standing a pace back from my doorstep.

“Hello, we’re following up a possible Covid breach.”

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