life

My Week with Apple Watch: Day 2, Health and Efficiency

I said yesterday I didn’t set up the fitness elements of the Apple Watch right from the get go. Two reasons for this, I was short of time as I said and also I’m hardly “Mr Five-a-Day” healthy. I like to keep myself active, but I also like a full english breakfast from time to time. But its a feature and I thought it might be fun to actually see what gets my heart racing.

Like the set up of the watch in general the Activity monitor is easy to set up. Tell your watch how tall you are (short!), how heavy you are and how active you are (not very) and you are good to go. The watch then displays 3 worms. Red for Calories burned (actively) Green for exercise and blue for how long and how often you have stood up. The more you do the more achievements you unlock.

It did occur to me that wheelchair users may want to use this to track exercise and calories burned. To be told to stand up every hour would be a trifle annoying. Thankfully you can turn this off in the settings. Not that I have.

The daily goals are attainable and the watch will display words of encouragement to get you moving even a little more. Which has to be a good thing.

So thats the Health, what of the efficiency. Well I’ve decided not to charge the watch tonight and see how it does. It’s on 51% now so I’m not holding my breath.

IMG_3372

This woman is wearing an Apple Watch on her right wrist.

My Week with Apple Watch: Day 1, Strap On Issues

“Guess what I got (on loan)
Picture attached.

“Is that an Apple Watch? Why on loan?”
“Yes it is, (You were the first notification I got) My friend is going through an anti tech phase. Wants to live without it for a week see how he gets on. So he isn’t tempted I get it for a week to see if I like it.”

“Your friend is weird”

Who am I to argue with beautiful wisdom from across the pond. My friend is weird, but I knew that because he’s friends with me. I get a shiny watch to play with. So why haven’t I got one already? I’m a Apple guy.

Well, I’m not a watch guy, haven’t worn one for 17 years and my bank doesn’t offer Apple Pay a huge selling point of the watch. Also I haven’t had the money. So no pressing need. But I am an apple geek and it’s a nice thing. So why not try it out, remembering of course to take it off when I have a bath, for it isn’t water proof.

1st impressions. We’ll obviously no unboxing for me, but set up (off wrist) is so easy. Line your iPhone camera up with the pattern on the watch screen and boom you are paired. A few questions follow about transferring available Watch companion apps for the apps I have on my phone. And it’s set.

Strap on issues…I am cack-handed. My friend knows this and he showed me method for putting the watch on. I still couldn’t for a good 10 attempts. The strap on the sport model is a nicely made rubber affair with a stud for fastening (much like my gimp mask) but instead of a traditional strap the left over strap gets tucked in back towards your wrist. I kept fastening it only for it to come undone whilst tucking. Who hasn’t come undone whilst tucking…

I skipped the bit about health as I am running short on time. I will cover more about that in tomorrows piece. Now it’s on and I look forward to notifications, I’m off to work.

IMG_2713

Apple Watch: Modelled by a Sasquatch clearly

Living with a Vegan Warrior

I am quite outspoken on these here pages. At times I can be quite outspoken at football (Sorry Dave) and down the pub on the odd occasion I have had a few jars. That is basically it however. I don’t want or need for people to agree with me, like I am the messiah (not a naughty boy). Usually as long as people listen and provide a good reason as to why they don’t agree in conversation, it’s all gravy. Beefy tasting gravy.

I have been a meat eater, with vegetables for garnish for 35 years. My significant other has been a vegan for 4-5 months. I can’t be more specific as these days I seem to blink and lose weeks. She is a passionate person a huge plus in any relationship. So as she climbed aboard the good ship vegan I knew this was going to be no different. Strap yourself in Sudo I said. (Cos of course I refer to myself in third person by my blog name).

I fully support her dietary choice. I always will.

If she has a change of heart and wants to eat roasted penguin because of the health benefit I will be first to see if Amazon Prime covers shipping from Antarctica. I probably wouldn’t partake as I liked Pingu as a kid and there would be significant trauma.

My SO however is now “ethically vegan” which means she tries to live for the good of the planet, causing the least possible harm as she goes. Being passionate, she campaigns for others to live the same and even has her own fledgling YouTube channel, which is extremely well produced and researched, albeit from a vegan angle.

As a meat eater, there are some meats I won’t eat. Dog, Rabbit and (if it’s ok with Findus)Horse. They are pet animals in the UK and I have close personal connections with them. That said with the exception of Dogs I would be happy for others to eat Rabbit and Horse. Just like I’m happy vegans eat vegetables and beans.

This is speciesism. (She tells me)

Yes and I have no problem with that. Dogs mean more to me than most people. They should not be eaten. Cows are bred by humans to be eaten. So I do and they taste damn good. I value both dogs and cows for hugely different reasons. Reasons that are personal to me. I am told the vegan population of the earth is on the rise. I am delighted those people have made their own personal choice. All those people can even think I am wrong to live my life how I do. Do I care? No.

Living with a vegan has very few problems. We share much love and eat different stuff, we did that anyway. Finding somewhere to eat out is somewhat problematic.

Living with a vegan warrior, causing the least possible harm? For the most part I wish she’d just live and let live.

Randy Savage vs Ultimate Warrior

Randy and the Warrior.. She might look like this.. check out YouTube to be sure.

Livin on a Prayer

What did you do Saturday morning?

Me I went to the centre of my village to get cash out, then into our equivalent of a 7-11 to get a few bits of shopping. Glamorous eh. Oh I missed out something, I got given a second hand necktie then I got prayed for and “blessed” twice.

As a practising atheist, praying as about as useful to me as a bacon sandwich is to a vegan. A man approached me as I walked, with my crutches, towards the cashpoint.
“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m from the local Christian church and we are doing a treasure hunt, and we needed someone on crutches.”
Strange treasure hunt, I think still walking.
He continues “Is there anything you would like praying for?”
“No not really” I politely reply. “But if you want to knock yourself out”
On I go to get my cash out, smiling to myself, thinking briefly of Anneka Rice and her Treasure Hunt. That was a good show.

Into the shop.

There is a woman in the way preventing me reaching the bread. I wait patiently, no rush there is plenty of bread. A mousey middle aged woman with a squint approaches me.
“This might seem very strange.” She says “But I saw you and felt I must go in the shop next door and buy you this.”
She was right it did seem strange.
She has in her hand a purple necktie. She continues “This is to show you are very much welcome into the kingdom of God.”

I take the tie, it would be rude not to. She blesses me and leaves the shop. I get my bread.

Regular readers (if I have those) will know that I am pretty much live and let live. If you wanna believe there is a man in the sky, fantastic. Just don’t expect or demand me to agree with you. It ain’t happening. Some of you will say, where is the harm in blessing and praying. Hell you got a free tie. Well did either of those people ask what I wanted? Offer me some actual assistance, carry my shopping to the car for instance. Surely this is far more “Christian” than mumbling a few words in the hope that God will hear.

It only occurred to me when I was home. These acts of religious “saving” or “blessing” isn’t for the benefit of the subject. It’s an entirely selfish act, a completely empty gesture. The equivalent of me going up to a stranger and asking them to watch me play with myself.

If you are religious and want to make a difference, pray if you want, but actually do something to help, volunteer, if you don’t have time send money, ask people what they need. If you think your God will help, great but you can help too. If you can’t bring yourself to actually help, go away and leave me to enjoy my Saturday.

Rev James, the only religious thing I've enjoyed recently.

Rev James, the only religious thing I’ve enjoyed recently. For good beer follow @goodbeertweet on twitter

Comment: The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime

Following the documentary on BBC Three last night about disability “Hate Crime” I feel I must add my comments. Sorry this is a little long.

I hate the term “Hate Crime” Gene Hunt expresses this best.

How are we ever going to move on, live together and integrate as a society if crimes against any group of people are labelled in such an insane way. It’s justifying why someone committed a grievous act against someone else, reporting a “hate crime” produces two groups of people. Those who support the victim, and those who support the perpetrator as they agree with his or her politics. If a murder is reported as a “murder” one person killed another, we can all pull together and agree that that is a bad thing regardless of our backgrounds.

This approach removes the often incorrect assumption that “he only killed him because he was disabled/white/black/green/gay” No he got killed because he was sleeping with his wife/husband/girlfriend/mother/tortoise/guitar.

Last nights show was presented by Adam Pearson who has neurofibromatosis which causes excess growth of the skin. Which gives him a striking and unusual appearance like many disabled people. Now I like to think that when I’m sat down or propping up a bar I look pretty “normal” I don’t of course, the way I hold myself up, my movement that is both ponderous and jagged are both clear giveaways that I am “different”.

As kids we stare at “difference” it’s a survival technique present in most inhabitants of the earth. Don’t believe me? Walk slowly into a field of cows. They will all look at you, “Who are you? Will you feed us? Will you kill us? Where are your trousers?” If no-one batted an eyelid at things out of the ordinary we and the cows would get killed.

Of course we like to think we have evolved, it makes us feel superior and for the most part it helps us fit in and not be different as the environments we inhabit are largely about inclusion and acceptance, on the surface anyway.

A place where our true feelings are often is expressed is here on the internet. This very page has a comments section. Upon which you are free, with varying degrees of anonymity to call me whatever you like. The comments section can bring out the very worst in people and statements or poor attempts at humour can be misinterpreted.

One of Mr Pearsons TV interviews was posted on YouTube and seemed to be a significant part of the programme. One comment was nasty suggesting that he should have been burnt to death at birth. Harsh you have to say, but the comment was sent to YouTube who didn’t do anything about it. Mr Pearson mentioned “genocide” and I turned off.

It’s a comment on YouTube! The person who made it is probably 12 and as he accompanied his comment with “lol” he was hardly suggesting people hunt you down and burn you. So to suggest genocide is giving this comment much more credence than it deserves. Much better to laugh at it or reply back taking it further “Yeah hideous burns might improve my looks” Thus disarming any malice and perhaps leaving the commenter with a “See him there, he looks a bit weird but he’s alright” feeling winning him over and maybe stopping such comments in the future.

There are times in everyones life where we need to pack our thickest skin (no pun intended) regardless of which groups we align ourselves with. There will always be people who prey on easy targets or promote hatred but we should never underestimate the power of our response.

If you are in the UK or use a VPN (shh!) you can watch the program here.

Being WyW_URZ

Like many of my age (old) I started gaming on a Commodore 64. The games took ages to load and I was invariably rubbish at them. I remember Speed King which was a bike game, way over 30 mins to load just to see the pixelated arse of my rivals disappear into the distance never to return.

Spin forward 30 years and I’m still rubbish at games, they just look better. I have finally got to grips with shooter style games using the PS4 controller (as opposed to mouse and keyboard) but of course the lack of dexterity and co-ordination caused by my disability does not aid this.

Movement of a character on screen for the average player is a relatively sedentary affair, you sit, controller resting in hand, relaxing on the couch, occasionally venturing to edge of your seat for a “good bit” but in my observation average gamer uses the same amount of movement to bring down great empires via their console as they do doing up a shirt in the morning.

Not me.

Just simply moving my character involves me being sat correctly, properly supported. Fully concentrated. That’s just to start. Once I get into the game, kak handedly actually trying to shoot other players, my legs want to get involved and if I tense up cramp can get me down better than any headshot. Jump scares? I’ll throw the controller in the air. It can be incredibly frustrating at times, fighting yourself, before you can play a game. Sometimes I shout at myself, it’s just a game though right?

Gaming is part of my life. I am aware of my own limitations, nothing wrong with trying to push them or adapting my style of play to suit. I play for fun, when I’m not having fun I do something else.
I play to beat my top score not top the leader board.
I play to help my team, although sometimes I know I will hinder them.
I play because very occasionally things like this happen

Feel free to add me WyW_URZ on PSN.

Ill

I have a cold… I know poor me I hope you all have the violins of sympathy out. So I write this with a nose like a unseasonable Rudolph only capable of smelling one thing, the inside of my own nostrils. You know the deal no doubt, as you too will have joined the snot brigade.

Where it gets fun however is when you pair this with disability, for disability makes everything fun don’t you know. For your average Joe or Josephine a cold means going armed with tissues and lemsip to work if you don’t feel too bad. If you walk with crutches however the daily commute becomes an issue. Most people for example don’t have to choose between catching a sneeze and falling over. Being on the ground having your fall broken by a snotty face is no fun so, most of the time the sneeze loses out, caught well by my beard, thats what beards are for.

If you manage to sneeze and catch it without a trip to the floor, well done. However careful you don’t sneeze too hard. If you do you might put your neck out and be really stuck, unable to move and on your back for a while. Oh and make sure no-one is near your feet. Because they will get kicked and/or covered in snot (if your catching isn’t so good) no control options are available.

Then there is the aches. Flu will make muscles ache and spasm for everyone. Well firstly welcome to my world, secondly if you muscles are shit to begin with, the flu likes to fuck them over nicely. I managed to get out of bed yesterday (yay me) and go and try to make tea. (I may be ill but I am still British) My leg went into spasm causing me to stumble backwards and drop the milk all over the floor.

So there I am, nose dripping, tea stewing in a puddle of milk that of course has gone down behind the cooker and everywhere. Dignity.. mine took a trip on a Greyhound bus. Hardly superhuman.

Achoo

"Cover Coughs, Cover Sneezes" - NARA - 514081

Overly Social Media

I’m a old curmudgeon. My mother says I was born an old man. I hate people until they prove worthy of my time, once you are in the circle you pretty much stay there until you choose to leave. In the circle you have benefits like unlimited lifts in the car at pretty much whatever time you like, beer money on the rare occasion I have it, IT/AV assistance, access to slow roasted Lamb and most importantly you can have my last Rolo.

Outside of my group you can pretty much, keel over and die without me batting an eyelid.

Selfish, yes.
Self preservation also.

Social media flies in the face of my survival strategy. Twitter and Facebook (moreso) forces you to form relationships with people you knew 20 years ago, or people you met once on a drunken night out in Rhyll. These people in the cold hard light of day mean less to you than your clan members in Clash of Clans or the members of your faction on Last of Us but because you have seen Barry’s daughter Stacy (whom you never met) take her first steps you feel somehow compelled to write some vapid response to Barry’s status. Which Barry will maybe read, smile and then ignore.

Using Facebook to plan a social gathering is like trying to find a TV presenter from the 1970’s that isn’t in prison. Possible, but hardly worth the effort. The people most likely to attend are your best friends, who whilst on your facebook, are also in your phonebook and textable. Those same people probably ignore Facebook event requests because they are as regular as someone on a fibre rich diet.

Those friends who see the event will also assume that because the Facebook event is visible to all of your 800 “friends” that at least 70 bods will show up. Now friending Dominos in is a great way to get 10% off Pizza but I doubt their CEO cares you are having a “Summer Shindig” so won’t turn up.

I left Facebook long ago, not missed it. All the people near and dear to me, write or talk to me. Not a wall or a time line. Facebook and any online platform, this included, is all too often used to foster a persona, a façade of the frothy. Don’t get me wrong, not everything has to have deep meaning, but it has to be real otherwise we may as well all pretend to be Astronauts.

No-facebook-me

A Quest for Normality

What is normal?

That is a question that has no right or wrong answer. It varies not only from person to person but from day to day. For some of you reading right now it may be completely normal and positively hum drum to wear frilly lacy panties because you like the way they feel against your skin. Some of you might even be male. Ugh a man in frilly pants, how is that normal? Normal for him, so it’s all good.

Of course we all have to conform to a certain degree to what society has laid out for us as normal. In the workplace for example it would probably be considered abnormal to fart loudly and shout “I’m a stinky monkey” whereas at home you can do this no worries, trust me you can, go on give it a whirl.

For the young at school the quest for the non-existent “normal” is strong. Your friends, even the ones “sticking it to the man” want you to conform to their perception of normal. Your parents want you to conform the family version of normal and then there is your teachers who demand a adherence to their classroom norm.

The classroom normal is the most dangerous and the most influential. As is proved now in the classrooms of North Korea and in history with the schoolrooms of Nazi Germany. A normal taught in a classroom with an agenda can influence a persons actions throughout their life, be it that your leader is indeed glorious and infallible or that Jacob sat next to you is sub-human.

Teachers outside of obvious oppressive regimes need students to be normal. It makes their life easier. If you as a student have a impairment that makes it impossible to conform then the school has three choices.
1.Belittle that impairment “Be normal!” (Pleading helps!) “We are not here to babysit”
2.Provide no support and deny the impairment exists. “Normalising”
3.Provide a quality education (Difficult, but not impossible)

In case you haven’t guessed 1 and 2 happened! The pleading came from the Head of of local academy. A man blinded by the quest for “normal” that he’d forgotten that the reason for schools to provide an education for all. But this is not just a dig at him, arsehole of the highest order as he is.

The normal ideal, conditions us to believe in a society where difference is something to be avoided for ourselves and feared within others. At best it promotes a boring closed life, at worse it provides an environment where it is ok to exclude, discriminate against or even exterminate others because their normality is different from our own.

Mexican curious monkey

Mexican Monkey… not stinky, but perhaps curious to learn.

This Goes to 11: IVA Survival Tips

1,826 long days, I have been officially skint. Well I was skint before that but I have a court judgement to prove it. The IVA is government legislation which whilst keeping you to a strict budget and forcing you to cut up your credit cards, allows you to reach an arrangement with all your creditors to pay back only part of what you owe. Unlike a debt management plan, both parties are bound to this so Barclays can’t suddenly decide they want all your cash tomorrow, or they send the boys round.

If you are in money strife as some of you might be after Christmas, worry not. A IVA or similar financial agreement is not a cakewalk but it is a proactive step to doing something to keep the wolves from the door. If you are thinking about taking one up, here are 11 (I like Spinal Tap) things I learnt along the way to help you sleep a little better.

    1. If you know you you are going to enter into the agreement and you need to buy something, shove it on the card before. If it’s a big purchase, don’t try and do it on the cheap. Two reasons for this, whatever it is will have to last you 5 years and it is the last chance you’ll have to “enjoy” spending for a while. I brought the Macbook I’m typing this on, yes I could have got a cheaper machine, but it wouldn’t have lasted me.
    2. Before you enter into the agreement, grab a meal out with your family and friends (or people you like!) It’s the last time you’ll do so without wondering if you really should.
    3. Get a decent administrator. I recommend Payplan. They do everything for you, and they are very friendly and sympathetic. They know arrangements inside and out and will assist you to keep as much money as you are allowed.
    4. Ask questions and be honest, when you are in £20k + debt, the time for bullshit and bravado is over. Ask any questions you may have, and above all be honest. Help them help you.
    5. Don’t respond to any letters or phone calls from creditors. They are trying to catch you out.
    6. If you didn’t before, look at bank balances and statements on a regular basis, no overdraft means you won’t ever be overdrawn, but knowing what you don’t have will save embarrassment at Tescos.
    7. Another way to not be embarrassed by cash running out in shops is to either, withdraw cash before shopping or use the self service checkouts. The machine won’t judge you if you can’t pay and you can just leave the stuff you can’t afford and haul ass to your car and sob uncontrollably.
    8. Sounds silly but pick some luxury every day items. Things that even though they are more expensive you will enjoy. For me it was Cheese and Tea, it’s amazing how much something little can brighten your day. Best not choose Caviar though eh.
    9. You will learn who your friends really are. Sounds cliched but it’s true. I have been very lucky to have so many people in my life who have been willing to lend a hand. I will always be humbled and grateful.
    10. Tell people in your life the restrictions imposed. I told everyone important to me, this helps because when your daughter asks for those new trainers and you say no, she knows it’s genuinely because you have not got the cash. Learn to say NO.
    11. It’s not forever. And with careful planning and the support of your administrators and your friends you will make it. Credit score zero is a wonderful place.

Embed from Getty Images>Enjoy this, chances are you won’t be seeing fiftys for a while