I Quit Sugar

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Heapy Nap Yewr!

I made my normal new year’s resolution, and that’s not to make any goddamned new year’s resolutions. I firmly believe if you are having to make resolutions, it’s stuff you should be doing anyway.. so just do it! Okay? Anyhoo, first blog entry for 2017 .. hurrah! That is all.

The Year in Summary

So, 2016, what a quite fantastic year for me personally, but I can’t write this blog update without mentioning the sheer talent loss we have all experienced throughout the year. Perhaps most heart-wrenching for me was the death of Colin Vearncombe aka Black, mostly famous for ‘Wonderful Life’, but to his fans this was just a small taster of the song-writing genius he was. Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ coming on random play had me in floods of tears, making me realise just how much his music also meant to me in a much more subliminal sense. Then there are the acting talents of the likes of Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman that mean we will no longer get to see these familiar faces on our screens save for the great legacy they have left us. Ultimately a lot of these heroes and heroines of ours are a decade or so older than us, since they were our idols when we were younger, hence they are also prone to the rigours that age puts us through.

This year has seen the wife and I quit sugar, and move on to a low Fructose way of life – probably the best thing I personally have ever done from a dietary perspective. I feel more ‘in control’ of what I eat; I don’t ever crave sugary snacks and cook fresh 90% of the time. This is the first Christmas I have had that I haven’t eaten Christmas cake, even though we have a box of cake bars, I actually just don’t want to eat it. I allowed myself a small mince pie as something that I used to eat far too often for my own good, but I found myself eating it and not enjoying the taste anywhere near as much. This in turn has fuelled my desire to commence proper Triathlon training throughout the winter months in readiness for June’s Blenheim Palace Sprint distance race. I have enlisted the help of one of the Born2Tri coaches to devise a training plan and more importantly make me accountable to someone else other than me. So far I am loving it, feels good to have an aim, and getting exercise back into my daily routine and making it part of what I do. With any luck I will have lost weight and be fighting fit for the event, but this goes much further beyond for me, I want to keep this going for as long as I am able – push myself for a Standard (Olympic) distance Triathlon, and who knows what lies beyond.

The year saw my daughter Lucy compete in dance finals in Blackpool and coming in the top 20 for Ballroom and top 30 for Latin in her age group. She is developing into a very bright young lady with a constant thirst for creativity and a very good singing voice for one so young. Monty continues to grow at a rate of knots, and is most certainly the more mischievous of the two. Both make me so proud in both similar and very different ways.

I started up my own company this year as part of the requirements to contract where I was placed in March 2016, but has always been my view that I wanted to make it something that I can carry forward in its own right eventually. It was very daunting to begin with, the perceived uncertainty of contracting rapidly dissipating as I realised it’s no more vulnerable than a permanent position. The point that did cause concern was towards then end of the initial 6 month contract – relief abounded as this was extended by 3 months due to my reputation and attitude. I have also been renewed to the end of 2017 since too, huge relief and gives me great pride that the quality of my work and my aptitude are clearly assisting me here.

…And after watching it from the first episode, I have finally put Eastenders to bed – I have watched it out of habit for years rather than actually enjoying it, but storylines recently have been utterly rubbish to the point of disbelief! With quality TV such as Westworld, Game of Thrones etc.. being commonplace now, there is very little time for anything else. I also have very little time for non-quality TV with my training and also my guitar practice for the band I’m in www.blackwaterechoes.com – despite our excellent lead guitarist Mark leaving the band, we now have a similarly amazing talent in Anthony. I am loving playing  and just cannot wait to get out gigging again. I am also hopeful of an acoustic duo set up, but more on that soon.

As I look back at the year just gone, I am thankful to the support of my wife who basically pressed the red button for me back when I was mulling over whether to resign my previous post or not. We have such a great life together, making sure most of what we do is centred around our two gorgeous children, but also ensuring we both have our own social avenues and on the rare occasion actually going out together without the kiddies! I don’t often express it, and probably should do it more often, but I am hugely thankful for the privileges I am afforded – a roof over our heads, food on the table etc.. ya know, the simple things in life that a lot of others either simply don’t have or those that have that don’t appreciate it. Okay, that’s about as soap-boxy as I get! Having kids has definitely mellowed me with age and made me a lot more introspective and appreciative.

So what does 2017 hold for me? Well, my gig anti-bucket list sees a few more artists/band ticked off the list (Kraftwerk, Green Day, to name but two), but I am also looking forward to seeing where my fitness regime takes me to. Who knows I might even start enjoying running! I am also looking at doing things I have never done before, even if it takes me out of my own comfort zone – one of the most obvious examples of this is my accepting to do a speech on Information Security in the Financial Service sector in front of around 500 delegates. Daunting isn’t the word, actually exciting is.. Exaunting? Dauciting? Other than that, I just want to continue to be a great Dad to the kids, as non-irritating a husband as I can be to the wife and just enjoy this short life we all have to the fullest.

So long 2016, you’ve been a good one, if not a little bit over-generous with the celebrity culls! See y’all on the flip side.

Tomorrow’s World

There was a short, blink and you’d have missed it, news article on the BBC website on Tuesday heralding the creation of the last ever VCR maker. The article is here > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36896924 but although only two paragraphs in length I read it with a (un)healthy tinge of sadness and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. It doesn’t seem that long ago (though it totally is) that I was extoling the virtues of Sony’s pioneering Betamax video tape solution. The quality was so much more superior to VHS and yet because of a combination I’m guessing of bad marketing and price tag it was doomed to failure. A lesson Sony would still not learn with DAT and mini-discs both becoming Sound Engineering favourites, and the former a very popular backup media.

My dad (the Lord Jack Daniels rest his soul) always seemed to go for the cutting edge, but ultimately doomed platforms – Betamax being one example, the BBC Micro Model B being another! Yes we were THAT posh, but all my school mates had Spectrums and Commodores, and a vast array of games to play on them! I guess I followed in his footsteps investing in a mini-disc player later on in life, but in my defence I used the unit a heck of a lot for recording my own music. Anyway, where was I, kind of lost my thread there for a second. Ah yes, so the last ever VHS-playing VCR has trundled down the production line and no more will be produced. I wonder how many households still have a drawer or cabinet full of VHS tapes that they can’t quite bring themselves to admit are poor quality, made poorer over the years of natural magnetic deterioration. And I wonder how many have moved the denial dial on a notch and tried to flog them at a car boot sale! I mean, yeah, vinyl I can understand, but VHS tapes?! Does anyone actually buy them now? I remember doing a boot sale with my mum and she had lined up about 40-50 VHS tapes, including her prized Charles and Diana wedding tape. I told her that of the 40-50 VHS tapes she had, she will *still* have come packing up time. I was of course right. Meanwhile, my collection of music CDs and computer games were selling like the proverbial hot cakes!

So this article (actually remembered the point of all this now) got me to thinking that one day we will be pouring similar sentimentality upon the likes of Bluray (a tech Sony actually got right). It doesn’t seem possible right now, but did anyone think that DVD would be surpassed upon it’s inception? This constant evolution is evident in all areas of tech, only this week SEGA announced the release of a new handheld console that will contain 80 games built-in (http://thenextweb.com/gadgets/2016/07/25/987741/#gref) and only the other day we were all discussing robot hoovers and the recent arrival of the robot lawn mowers!! Suddenly those far-fetched sci-fi landscapes and technology doesn’t seem that unrealistic.

However, if any of that tech should say “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” I would suggest bolting for the nearest exit and never stop running.

Minus a Molar

Everyone has a bucket list don’t they? It stands to reason therefore that there is such a thing as an anti-bucket list, ie things you don’t really ever want to experience in this humble life. Just like your bucket list can be extraordinarily long, so can your anti-bucket list – I would hazard more so. So, I thought it would be fun (or anti-fun) to concoct a top 10 list of things I don’t ever want to happen in this life.

I should probably start with a little context – you see, at the weekend I experienced the rather odd and thoroughly unpleasant extraction of a tooth. Don’t get me wrong, my dentist is great, very calming and she explains everything so that even my brain cell can comprehend. The procedure itself was entirely painless courtesy of the six injections I had to the nerves leading to my molar root. What you don’t prepare for is the yanking and manipulating that occurs along with the macabre snapping of pieces of the once proud and undamaged adult tooth. Over the years, crap brushing and eating/drinking the wrong stuff gradually took its toll on this tooth to the point that eventually root canal procedures (3 in all) reduced it to a stub with a crown sat on top. For the past 2 years an infection has gradually set in and was steadily worsening to the point it was starting to damage the bone itself – not good. It’s been fun popping the bubble on my gum whenever it gets full of gunk, but my dentist explained that it really was time to get rid or suffer untold pain from abscesses and worse. Uhm, okay then. Killjoy!

So, numbed up I am invited back into the chair of doom to lose an adult tooth – that is quite sobering to be honest. You ain’t getting any more new teeth, that’s it, gone, unless of course you have the misfortune of active wisdom teeth – thankfully I don’t! So much drilling occurs as she whittles the remains of the molar away in preparation for pulling each part out one by one. At one stage a piece snapped, pinged out of my mouth and smacked against her visor! I had a strange urge to laugh there and then, but felt that could be quite detrimental to my oral health being as I had a drill being held in there. Not sure how I didn’t!

So, an hour in the chair later, I am minus one tooth and under strict instruction not to rinse or spit over the next 24 hours. Apart from fishing out two fairly large chips of tooth from my numbed mouth (quite some doing that took I can tell you!), everything seemed fine. The socket had clotted nicely she said, which I took as a good thing and the whole thing would have healed in around 10-12 weeks. Holy molars! Anyway, 2 days on and I’ve not experienced any bleeds, just the occasional jabbing throb that a dose of Paracetamol soon fixes.

So, my anti-bucket list. You know, I’ve gotten to the end of writing about my extraction regaling and I actually don’t want to consider stuff that I don’t want to happen. Amazing how a seemingly cool idea becomes one of shuddering avoidance in the space of 3 paragraphs.

Look after those Penelopes people, you only get one set!

Frankie Say

Thursday May 12th, I took control. Having made incredibly dire food choices the day previously I suddenly realised that the near perpetual crappy feeling is directly (without being a Doctor m’kay?) related to the inconsistency of the quality of food I am eating. It’s a real non-working hybrid of good eating mixed with utterly shit choices. It ain’t big and it most certainly ain’t clever! So, I am reminded of the immortal words of Frankie Goes to Hollywood:

“Frankie say, no more!”

…and that is exactly my mantra from here-on-in. I lost 3 stone 2 years ago, I’ve put it back on, that’s utterly stupid, crazy and downright foolish. I’m not getting any younger, and the latter year suite of diseases is well and truly within my grasp – and I am helping them! Diabetes is really not something I wish to experience, ever, not to mention the more life threatening chart toppers Cancer, Heart Disease and if research materials I’ve been reading are remotely correct Dementia (Alzheimers) are all ‘preventable’ to a certain extent by the things we eat and the lifestyles we lead.

“Frankie say, no more!”

Damned straight he says ‘no more’, what the unholy fuck was I thinking? I got myself into a beautiful position to go on and drop down into the ‘safe’ BMI (I know, don’t read into it too much, but it’s still a measure however loose that I don’t want telling me I’m obese!). So, I am on that journey again, with a big degree of annoyance but a larger degree of optimism, pride and determination.

Since the 11th, otherwise known as ‘Being a Complete Wanker Wednesday’, I have eaten clean, exercised a fair degree too, but the key thing is the clean eating. I’ve still had days where I have leeway for a beer or two, and I have them – you bet! I am sure there will be the exceptional days where the counting goes through the roof, but the key thing is to return to the clean the following day and to continue it onwards and forever.

It’s not a temporary thing… it’s not something to dip in and out of… it’s a lifestyle change, but one that isn’t going to depress you, or charge you for each weigh-in session, or restrict you entirely from the things you love to eat or make you count points of any description – okay you’re counting calories, but that’s the real deal!

Yes, it’s time to man up and jump on board the good ship Healthy, next stop personal bests in Triathlons, climbing hills on a bike with relative ease and maybe even actually enjoying running rather than detesting it.

“Frankie say, no more!”

Where’s My Mojo?

Anyone? I lost it some time ago and I’ve not been able to find it… I don’t even know where I was when I lost it, or who I was with, or what time it was, or if I was drunk or sober. Gone! Vamoosed! Vanished! Outta here! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I come here today to admit and accept that all that hard work losing weight and getting fighting fit has ultimately been trashed by stupidity and apathy. My hope is that in writing this, seeing it in the cold glare of plain text that it will surface the desire, the want, the need and the passion that got me where I was previously.

So, where did it all go wrong? For starters, taking part in my last event for the year was followed by….. nothingness. No training, not even lunchtime walks (quite frankly these are one of the main reasons for the weightloss), just procrastination. What ails me? I have a loving and caring wife, I have two absolutely incredible children, I have a good and prosperous career choice .. hell, I’m even back playing in a band again doing the stuff I love (rock and metal). So, it isn’t like I am unhappy with my lot and completely riddled with energy sapping misery. What is it then that is holding me back, making me not give a flying feck when I drink to excess or waste the good work I’ve done calorie wise during the day with some silly evening eating. Well, the latter right there is a reason for weight gain, of course – I am just not counterbalancing that with anything that will burn calories.

It’s a simple equation and premise – Eat a set amount of calories a day and move your fat ass more. I was never religious about the calorie consumption per day, just made sure I hit there or thereabouts. I always counterbalanced my day with some form of exercise, whether it was taking the stairs all day instead of the lift, the aforementioned lunch walks or simply standing in meetings rather than sitting if there was nothing else going on. Anything over and above that was obviously a bonus! The thing that maddens me the most is that I got myself very VERY fit with a non-regimented weekly set of exercise ideals, trying to at least Swim, Run and Cycle once in any given week. It worked, well.

I don’t even have any injury excuses or blockers that would prevent me from doing any of it. I have an old bike permanently set up on a turbo trainer – I can cycle WHENEVER I like. The club run swim sessions each and every Monday night for the princely sum of £3 for just an hour of my time – time VERY well spent. And running… I simply need to put on one of my plethora of running tops, shorts and get my slack butt out there.

..but do I? Do I f**k!

So, Keith, and I know you will re-read this post the often vain person that you secretly are – please take a good long look at yourself. Happy? Like what you see? Nope, didn’t think so. Sort it the F@@K out you crazy foo!

Our Amazing Daughter

My daughter amazes me, regularly, and for a variety of different things and reasons. To list them here would be an exhausting and probably very boring experience for you the avid reader of my seldom read blogtypething. My son amazes me too of course, for equally varying reasons, but listen, this post is not about him it’s about Lucy. My beautiful girl, she starts school in September and along with it the inevitable and unintentional refinement of her personality as she gets to know new friends, their parents and of course sussing out which teachers to be afraid of and to befriend!

Anyway, for the last two days we all headed into London to do the Shaun the Sheep trails, which (if you have no idea what I’m talking about) is basically a load of porcelain (I think) statues in the shape of Shaun with various different artwork daubing them. If you know about the Cow Parade where (again, I think) it all started, you’ll know what this is about. It’s essentially a great way to get out and around London (or wherever) and see the sights from a walker’s perspective. My less than entirely accurate Samsung steps app tells me that over both the days I have clocked up around 46000 steps, which amounts to about 4000 calories burnt in a generic sense. Great stuff! However, things get more impressive when you consider that Lucy only moaned about the feet twice in the entire two days and other than a couple of trips in the buggy on the 2nd day, walked the entire lot with us. I reckon she would be doing two steps to our one, something I hadn’t factored in which means an astonishing circa 90000 steps for her wee little legs.

I thought she would sleep like a log in the car home, but no, she was still going jabbering about the last two days and what she’s going to do next and why aren’t we going to London again tomorrow?! Needless to say though, she didn’t want a story before bed, nor did she want her obligatory glass of milk – just a kiss and a cuddle from both Mummy and Daddy was enough for her sleepy head.

The two days can be summarised quite nicely by the picture below. Kids, they are amazing, keep reminding yourself of that even if you don’t need to. :o) x

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RIP Edgar Froese 1944-2015

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Another music hero of mine pops off to the great bandstand in the sky. His music had an immense impact on me both as a founder member of Tangerine Dream and as a solo artist. Many music memories and I think I need Stuntman and Epsilon on my S4 by way of tribute.

RIP Mantis

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Andrew Barclay (aka Mantis) (aka Notorious) 1966-2014

True gamers respawn…

Rebooted

This site got hacked some time ago and despite best endeavors it hasn’t been behaving nicely ever since so I have rebuilt the site with the latest version and here we are again. :O)