Another Year Older

Christmas Eve means it’s my birthday, an exciting day of celebrating the year past and year to come.  I always feel it’s the best use of Facebook that people wish happy birthday there.


This last year I’ve had a fabulous canoeing year.  I’ve been to Uganda and had the privilege of paddling down the Nile and competing against the world’s best in the Nile River Festival on Nile Special wave before it was submerged under a newly built dam.  I competed in Hurley and the British Champs/European Open Freestyle competitions.  My freestyle is only slowly getting better and is pretty limited by my fitness and lack of easy access to good waves but remains great fun, I moved from a Jackson Rockstar to a Pyranha Jed as I find it surfs waves better and I can get the nose under easier but I’m still working out the best boat for me.  I took part in a couple of kayak surf competitions and had fun surfing a few more days, I always want to do more of this but am limited by the east coast’s unreliable waves and not having a decent boat or knowing what I would want to buy if I decided to commit more.  I also went on a trip to the Alps for a couple of weeks which I’ve always wanted to do.  It gave me longer river rapids than I’d ever paddled before and another freestyle competition with Kayak Sessions magazine. Vienna also has a fun white water course much under-used.  Just last month I’ve done training in Advanced White Water Leader and run some trips out on rivers which are new to me including the long Alpine Upper Braan.

Just as important to me as paddling is helping the sport. It’s been a couple of years since it was made clear to me and half a dozen other volunteers that we weren’t welcome to help at the club I grew up in, which was heartbreaking, but I’ve been doing coaching quite a bit for Edinburgh Kayak Club who have lovely people and some nice facilities and I’ve run Safety and Rescue training and White Water coaching for them.  As well as coaching I’ve been a “major contributor” to the Scottish White Water Guidebook where I edited a couple of chapters, proofread a bunch more, raised a few thousand pounds from advertising and brought in some new contributors.  And one of my proudest achievements was working out the tech and social requirements on how to get the river levels page SCA Where’s the Water rewritten so I can now update calibrations and add new features.

I doubt I’ll do quite so much paddling next year but I would like to get the Advanced White Water Award completed and find some other way to help the sport.


It’s some 7 years since I ended up in a coma after being attacked by pirates in the Caribbean (other explanations are possible but I have no memory) and my health continues to be decent but challenging.  I do still get fatigued randomly and I increasingly feel it is linked to drinking alcohol but the fatigue is a day or sometimes a week after so it’s very hard to tell.  I’m able to do a decent amount of gym work (thanks Poppy!) but I’m not getting any lighter on the scales probably because the fatigue feels like it gets fixed by eating sugary and fatty foods so it’s very easy to convince myself I need to eat them.


I’ve spent a great year making KDE neon continuing to challenge the traditional open source model of allowing someone else to take the credit for the hard work of the projects which make the software by just shipping it directly from the creating community.  I’ve travelled to Kansas on an exciting project, got a new edition of the high end KDE Slimbook selling with KDE neon, seen the ultra-cheap Pinebook shipping with KDE neon, been to Vienna and visited Barcelona to see four different project all using or interested in using KDE neon.

I continue to be frustrated when there are problems in KDE which nobody but me seems to see how serious they are.  In the past it was fraud in donations and broken licences.  This year it’s the promo team being changed from a community team to a closed team.  It was a lot of energy and effort to get that fixed but there’s still not been anyone explained why that happened or why they thought it was a good idea.  But I continue to think it’s important to fix problems even when others would prefer to just pretend they don’t exist in the hope they go away (which just makes the people go away).


The political and social year in the UK has been overshadowed by the continuing process of the UK government wanting to leave the EU following a corrupt sham vote which has propagated racism and division. I mostly stopped trying to engage directly with politics after the 2016 referendum in which no person or media or political party did a good job of pointing out the dangers and arguing for sanity or enabling people like me to campaign.  It continues to be astonishing how few people, parties or media point out what a broken exercise of democracy the 2016 referendum was, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are about the best at this and of course the Guardian does a lot of important investigative work but it’s not enough.

Nobody knows what will happen next and there’s no point giving any probability for any outcome.  But the most significant thing to keep in mind is that the default option is for a no-deal Brexit which would see the very sudden collapse of UK as a society and economy. Food will not get delivered, medicines will run short, power supplies will be interrupted, people will die and riots will come fast.  This will happen in 100 days time unless the gridlocked UK parliament can agree to do something else, it’s a very serious possibility.  I’ve moved all my savings into Euro as the pound will crash but the food I have in store won’t last long and money does no good locked in a bank in another country.  Maybe parliament will extend the problem for a few more years as Theresa May wants which won’t help anyone’s mental health. Maybe Labour will get a new anti-brexit leader and stop this nonsense. Maybe Nicola Sturgeon will use her mandate and call for a Scottish independence referendum which would be very exciting. But nothing is predictable and the astonishing thing is how entrenched the public’s opinions are on the matter since the polls don’t change more than a few points.  I hope to help campaign for a sensible outcome in some way or other in the coming year but surviving will be the main objective.

Happy Christmas all