Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hey, What Political Party Are You, Then ... ?

The answer is, I'm not.

And I'm asked this a lot, on Social Media, particularly when, as I'm very active on Twitter, I take potshots at politicians from all sides.

I'm neither Lib / Lab / Con, nor Socialist Workers Party (a common suggestion) or a Communist (a common insult) or an Unwashed Pinko Lefty (even more common!). I can't ever imagine being a member of a Political Party, subject to sudden expulsion whenever I might disagree with a policy. That's the problem - Parties are a collection of policies, ever changing, and unless you agree wholeheartedly with all of them, you're considered 'Not One Of Us'.

Who, in all honesty, can support 100% of policies from any party? Today? Next week? Next year? Nobody.

Broadly speaking, I'd consider myself a Left Wing Liberal Socialist Democrat. But I'll happily point out failures of the Labour Party and enjoy it just as much as when ridiculing the Tories and UKIP. So I remain happily outside the Party System.

I don't support Parties - but I do support values.
  • Protecting and caring for our sick, our elderly, our disabled;
  • Ensuring an end to discrimination of all forms;
  • Allowing those who can work to find work that pays a living wage;
  • Paying reasonable Benefits to those who cannot work, or who are on low wages;
  • Allowing a certain amount of Immigration to fill gaps in our work skills;
  • Allowing those even with extremist views to air those views, but to ensure they stay within the laws;
  • Ensuring that those in power and authority are held to account at all times;
  • Ensuring that the highest earners in our nation pay their full tax bills.
Find me a Party that espouses these values in whole, in full, and I'd join. But there are none. So I will never be a party person. And I will continue to defend these values.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Coffee - Know Your Long Blacks From Your Flat Whites ...

I rarely drink alcohol, certainly not when I'm out and about - my motorcycle license is just too precious to me.

But I am a caffeinista - a lover of good coffee. Real coffee. Which is why I frequent local, independant coffee shops instead of the local branch of a national chain with a dubious tax record.

But there are still some people who get a little shy and confused over what coffee to order. What's in an American? What the hell is a Ristretto.

Can't I just have, you know, a coffee ?

Here's a really good guide from this week's Independent Newspaper as a cheat sheet, so next time you waltz in the door, you can order with confidence. :-)
"What beans are you using? Which brew methods? If I go in a shop, I'm asking: what have you got on filter? Who's it roasted by? Where are the beans from?" says Dan Hobson of Flat White, in London's Soho. "Then I'll get a bit nerdier and ask for tasting notes. I'm a real geek."
And my two favourite hang-outs?

In my local area, Surbiton, in Surrey, it's The Pressroom Cafe. When in London, it's Look Mum No Hands! - I'd go to both places even if it was just for the brews, but they're also very chilled environments for contemplating life.

If that's what you fancy. :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Evolution Of The Bicycle From Visual Artwork ...

Oh, this is rather charming. A short video on the design stages that our two-wheels have gone through to get to where it is today.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Things To Remember When Going Through The Tough Times in Life ...

You're down. Here's how to get up...

1. Even Bad Times End
2. You’ve Overcome Challenges Before
3. You Have Lots of Strengths as a Person
4. It Happens to Everybody
5. It’s a Learning Experience
6. You Can Always Ask For Help
7. There Are a Lot of Things to Be Grateful For

[Original, full article on the brilliant Lifehack site, here]

Monday, March 03, 2014

An Average Size Woman ...

An average size woman - holding an average size mannequin ...

I - and surely most men - would take the real thing - the sexy, full size woman - behind that skinny bit of plastic.

Every time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Strength Stack 52 Workout...

I posted a status on Facebook a while ago stating that my favourite leather belt (about 8 or 10 years old now) was still serving me well, but in recent months I was gravitating towards the last belt hole as I was steadily losing those pounds which creep up on you in early middle-age...

Latest: I had to cut a new hole today, having lost about 2.5 stone (what's that, 35lbs? ish?) even though I've gained a lot of muscle mass. Constant cycling has helped a lot, but a better diet has been a struggle, as I'm a chef by trade so I have to sample everything.

The main driver though, has been the Strength Stack 52 card system, a great idea funded entirely by public donation via Kickstarter. Glad to see the system is finally getting the credit where it deserves, as seen by an article on Lifehacker today.

I know this sounds like a big plug for the cards, but jeez, they work for me. Here's a video of the creator, Mike Volkin, talking about how he came up with the idea.

Here's the 'Periodic Table' which gives you an idea of the different classes and routes of exercises. Click for bigger image.