Podiatrist and more

So I had my podiatrist appointment today. I’ll get to that in a moment…

It’s been a strange few days. I felt very anxious this morning. General anxiety is something I used to get a lot of but very rarely do any more for reasons I mostly attribute to hormonal changes from lifting weights regularly. I still get more anxiety than I’d like but it tends to be related to specific things rather than being a cloud that follows me around for a while.

I was working from home today (due to the podiatrist), which I always find a bit tense because I don’t do it often enough to get used to it and I feel that I have to prove I’ve done some work. If you’re actually in the office you’ve already proved yourself just by turning up, even if you just drink tea and browse the internet all day (which I do). Last week I had a lot of the more general anxiety which seemed to be centred around the confusing feelings of the Office Crush, and I thought this was still the case this morning. Being distracted by these various work related issues, I wasn’t thinking about the podiatrist visit at all so I didn’t think that was a factor.

…but as I walked out of the podiatrist I realised how calm I suddenly felt. All that tension, all that anxiety, all gone. I don’t really understand what happened there, but hopefully that’s it and I will now feel like a normal person again.

So, the summary of the podiatrist visit is:

1. He thinks a neuroma is still a possibility even though the ultrasound was negative, although other soft tissue problems are possible.
2. He’s going to give me some insoles with a metatarsal dome, which I haven’t actually tried before. Apparently I may wait 4-6 weeks for these to come through the NHS, although I could buy them off the shelf tomorrow if I wanted…
3. He wants me to try them for six weeks and then go back and see him if I’m dissatisfied
4. Longer term options will be to refer me to podiatric surgery who will be a bit more aggressive about getting a firm diagnosis because they’ll be excited by the prospect of sticking needles and/or knives into me.

But I do feel it’s improved lately. I ran over 10k yesterday for the first time in … a year? more? So hopefully the longer term options won’t need to be explored.

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Office Crush

So, yes, I have an office crush. I have to write about it because I haven’t told anyone and it’s driving me crazy. She only started last week. It wasn’t quite love at first sight but it was pretty close. I think people would find it surprising, and the biggest surprise would be hers. She is at least 10 years older than me; that’s the diplomatic number I’d pick if she asked me. 15 is more likely. I’m not sure how best to phrase this but she probably wouldn’t believe herself to be especially attractive, and probably most people would agree with her. I think she’d be surprised at being preferred over a woman my own age. But she has something, and if you care about that particular thing, she has a lot of it.

Anyway, it is clearly not going to go anywhere for a whole stack of very obvious reasons which I don’t need to list, but the final obstacle in a long series of obstacles is that she is unavailable.

I have never had an office crush before. In fact it’s been a very long time since I had an actual crush versus, let’s say, a more moderate, manageable and reasonable ‘attraction’. The last time I felt like this was when I was 14. I remember it well; it was terrible. I’m glad my 30 year old hormones are no longer capable of making me feel that way, ha ha, oh. You think of these things as being positive and enjoyable but actually I am quite overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of it all. I won’t say it’s unwanted, per se… but it’s not a very realistic prospect so it’s not exactly helping me.

The unexpected effect of all this is that she is making me be more sociable at work. It doesn’t really make sense because I have already talked to her more than probably anyone else in the office apart from her boss and the person she sits next to, and every conversation has flowed completely naturally, but I find myself wanting to say more (not necessarily to her) when she is around just so she will notice me and won’t find herself thinking that I’m closed off and difficult to approach. I am quite introverted so I am finding this a bit exhausting even though I’m not consciously forcing it and it just seems to be happening organically.

Interestingly, online discussion (admissions) indicates that such infatuations with older co-workers are quite common, but only if you reverse the genders. Similarly, it seems that intense, inappropriate infatuations are not uncommon… among women. Maybe it’s just that women are more likely to admit to it.

I have also read some speculation that they can be a manifestation of frustrations with my life. I found a thread on mumsnet full of women of a certain age saying they’d experienced unwanted crushes on handsome younger men (lol), some to such intensity that they were basically emotionally crippling, and some of them were linking it to the frustrations of getting older, feeling trapped by existing relationship and family commitments etc, and seeing the object of their desire as an injection of excitement, a break from the norm, and representing a “what could have been” moment.

In a slightly different way, this may not be far off. I’m comfortable with my job and life in general, but I’m bored with both and I find that a bit frustrating. I’m constricted because I’m comfortable; I don’t want to change much because I think I’d just swap boredom for a bigger problem, like a job or a life I don’t actually like.

I absolutely would be a bit attracted to her in any situation because I’m very aware that she is my ‘type’, but because of the fact she is an interesting change to my life, which I currently regard as being not so interesting otherwise, it’s possible that much stronger emotions have come forward which are more driven by frustration rather than anything to do with her. She is interesting, but she is also a reminder that life could be more exciting. Of course, I never actually feel such strong desire towards people who are more obtainable, so it’s kind of a catch 22.

I feel like I’ve gone through a journey in writing this…

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Quick updates:

1. I have a podiatrist appointment on Monday about my maybe-neuroma. I’ve gradually increased my running over the last few months and things have hurt less, so I’m not really expecting much resolution from this, but we’ll see. I’m definitely no longer wanting any kind of invasive treatment, whereas back in September I’d have been much more open to it (assuming a convincing diagnosis). So that’s good.

2. I haven’t played many computer games over the last few years because I’ve found them a bit bland, but back in June I started playing Rimworld and recently I’ve switched to Factorio. Both of these are incredibly engaging to the point that I have to be careful to stop playing them at least 30 minutes before I want to go to sleep unless I want to spend 30 minutes laying in bed thinking of more efficient ways to arrange my conveyor belts. Factorio is notable in how much the process of playing the game resembles software engineering, which makes it a pretty terrible choice for me to spend an evening playing after a day at work, but there we go.

3. Work recently suddenly became much more interesting (and difficult) due to a new lady starting. In general I don’t find often myself very attracted to people, for whatever reason I don’t know. A little bit of attraction is easy and happens frequently, but a lot of attraction is rare. Maybe that’s normal. But once in a while my brain will pick someone, who will always be the least appropriate choice it can find, for reasons such as, in this case, being 15 years older than me.

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Brexit Hamper

“Cheese, Marmite and PG Tips: Barnier’s hamper treat from Brexiteers” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42633478

PG Tips? 🤔

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The perils of statistics

Yesterday the Financial Times reported that a study by Oxford University shows that Russia’s Twitter influence on brexit was minimal. This was jumped on by people who always vehemently denied that this kind of subterfuge is within the capabilities or interests of hostile superpowers, who now think the matter is settled even though they thought that before they saw the article.

Although this was published by Oxford University, the relevant part of the research paper is junk. The paper in question is: http://comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/12/Russia-and-Brexit-v27.pdf

The paper even admits that its conclusions are junk, in different words. In relation to bot/shill accounts: “It is possible that there are other accounts, not yet discovered, that influenced Brexit conversations”.

This sentence sums up why the paper cannot reveal any interesting information.

They made no attempt to identify bot accounts; they assembled a list of known bots/shills from public sources and assumed it to be complete for the purposes of calculating what percentage of brexit related tweets sent in a certain period of time were sent by bots. The obvious minor flaw being that as the list of bots is incomplete and it is unknown how incomplete it is, it is not possible to calculate what percentage of messages were sent by bots.

That’s not the only problem. The sample of tweets they use is not even convincingly a fair random sample. They compiled it using Twitter’s streaming API which only publishes a subset of tweets going through the system and it is unspecified whether it is a constant percentage. It’s quite possible it varies based on tweet volume, meaning that you’d introduce a geographical bias by over-representing users in timezones with few Twitter users, which is pretty important to account for if you’re trying to do some analysis on the prevalence of Russians in the data set.

Furthermore, a ‘brexit related tweet’ is identified by whether it contains one of a set of pre-defined hashtags, which means that unless the list is exhaustive then missing hashtags means some tweets are unrepresented. If those missing hashtags are mainly used by certain agendas then it means the sample is biased against users with that agenda.

Overall this research is very uninsightful and it’s a bit surprising that Oxford University would be putting out a paper of this quality.

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Neuroma Updates!

After what feels like a very long time I have news on my neuromas or lack thereof, because, actually, the ultrasound scan failed to show any evidence of any neuromas (or: neuromata).

I was very surprised by this and my brain didn’t kick into gear fast enough to ask my GP questions about the reliability of the scan or differential diagnoses, so I’m really none the wiser, but part of the reason for that is because by the time I’d had chance to process the situation she had already told me she would refer me to a podiatrist, which is the correct next step, sooo…

So, is this good? I don’t know. I mean, it’s nice that the nerve is apparently not damaged, but it doesn’t change the fact that it feels like it is.

It has actually felt a bit better over the last few months and since I took the four weeks off running before I saw my GP the first time, I have been running twice a week and haven’t missed a single run, even while being struck with 3 different colds in this period.

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Irish issues

I was gripped today by the coverage of the brexit Irish border issue. It started off this morning looking like no progress would be made, but then rumours started spreading that the UK was going to concede on some issues to keep Northern Ireland kind of maybe nearly almost in the single market (unofficially, but pretty much) to solve the border issue. This scared the DUP, who want no divergence with the rest of the UK and definitely no steps towards Irish reunification, into calling a hasty press conference saying they wouldn’t support it, and shortly afterwards the whole thing was called off.

There is so much detail in here.

1. Putting the border in the sea is a good idea to move negotiations forward but essentially it’s just re-categorised it from an international UK-EU issue to an internal UK issue. Without a credible way of solving the internal problem, it’s still going to block any final deal. And obviously, the logical implication of the internal problem is to keep the rest of the UK in the single market too.

2. The DUP are a only a problem because the minority Conservative government relies on their support for an effective majority, and the DUP are historically completely irrelevant to non-NI politics. This seems like a very circumstantial problem, not that this observation helps with solving it, because to shed the circumstances requires calling and winning a new election. It’s just worth taking a moment to appreciate how bonkers the situation is that the DUP, who have never wielded any power outside NI, would happen to become important during the one parliament they can veto something like this.

3. The DUP’s aims are contradictory – they want an ultra hard brexit (despite NI actually voting remain) and to fully remain part of the UK, but they also want no border with the Republic of Ireland. Irish politics is very hard to understand, I think because you need to be familiar with decades of religious and political violence for it to make any sense.

4. It seems odd that Theresa May apparently didn’t discuss this with the DUP first. She knew it would be contentious to them and that she relies on their support. Maybe she was calling their bluff and hoping they’d back her over risking the collapse of the government (and ergo their own influence)?

5. It’s possible the rumours were started by the EU side to try to drive up hype. Not sure what the aim of this would be though – to pressure TM into accepting, to stoke the DUP tensions at home, or to all-out undermine her? The EU are pretty good at this sort of thing – see how they dealt with Yanis Varafoukis, but I’m not convinced they’re doing it here.

6. However, if Theresa May didn’t intend for this to be the solution, what was her plan? It would be like turning up without doing your homework and hoping the teacher won’t notice. It’s fair to say the UK government has no expectation of a hard border in Ireland because there is no preparation going on – we’d expect them to be buying up land along the border, if so.

7. So in conclusion she was probably calling the DUP’s bluff and it backfired on her. This is the folly of trying to negotiate brexit with the weakest government in living memory, which only became so weak because people were opposed to brexit.

The only real choice Theresa May has right now is to try to fudge it to placate the DUP and hope that by the time the details matter that she has some more options, but that’s exactly what she was trying to do. Anything else will see a DUP revolt, a party revolt or EU talks break down, all of which likely see Mr Corbyn in number 10 in the not so distant future, and quite possibly no brexit after all.

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