Monday, May 30, 2011

London Green Fair hosts Bicycle Music Festival ...

The London Green Fair next weekend (4th and 5th June) at Regents Park will play host to an rather strange event (unless, like me, you're a cycling, music-loving environmentalist)...

The London Bicycle Music Festival 2011 is combining music and cycling with a sound system and PA powered by bikes attached to alternators which act like generators. So you can pedal whilst you listen - dance whilst you pedal - pedal whilst you perform (or any combination of them).

With 8 bands playing over the weekend, Dr. Bike clinics, cycle maintenance workshops, slow bicycle races and new cycle trials, Regents Park will be THE place to be for anyone in London on two wheels.

And that's just the BikeFest. Other parts of the Green fair will be hosting:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Law Is A Farce ... Independent Front Page ...

Rise In Mental Health Cases Among Armed Forces ...

Reported on the BBC News site - the rise in mental health cases among Armed Forces has been put down to 'more people coming forward'.
"Almost 4,000 servicemen and women - or 2% of the armed forces - were diagnosed with mental health disorders last year, the Ministry of Defence says. The rise from 3,103 cases in 2009 to 3,942 new cases recorded in the annual mental health summary was down to more people coming forward, the MoD said. Last year saw 249 PTSD cases after men and women had been in Afghanistan and Iraq."
You can't erase the memories.
From my experience, (working with both mental health issue sufferers, ex-armed forces AND both) I would say it's more likely that finally, finally, the M.O.D. has at last woken up to the oncoming tide of mental health problems it will have to face in the next few years.

More people may be coming forward - but most are still silently suffering, aware of the stigma that society still attaches to mental health issues.

And this applies not only to ex-armed forces, but currently serving armed forces - men and women in Helmand on patrol right now, on duty tonight, suffering and saying nothing.

CSM Potter, Royal Irish
One solution is to assign each unit a senior WO/WO2 with specific responsibility for every soldiers mental welfare - like this chap in the Royal Irish, CSM Stuart Potter, who has served in the Army for 18 years.

He is currently working alongside troops in Helmand province, teaching them to spot signs of mental distress in colleagues.
"In the UK... I shout at soldiers about their uniform, being late... or having a 'few too many'. In Afghanistan... I listen to soldiers telling me how they put themselves in danger for their mates... How they were scared when they thought their number was up." - CSM Potter.
Company Seargeant Major Potter (Good rank, that!) is no REMF - He's served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Been there, got the full collection of t-shirts.

Best Ever DumbBell Workout ...

As a keen cyclist, I have perfect cyclist's legs - absolutely rock-solid, chiselled calves and thighs. Sadly this is not so true of my upper body - a common trait in leisure cyclists. 'Spaghetti arms' is the phrase that comes to mind ...

I see it all the time in other cyclists. The ones that do have well-defined upper bodies whisper their secret - perhaps the best-kept secret in fitness and health... dumbbells.

So being a bit frugal, and not wanting to shell out for a gym membership for just one half of my body when the rest of me is just fine, I decided to work out with some dumbbells - but trying to find the perfect dumbbell routine has been confusing.

So many varied opinions, so many slightly different exercises, all with their advocates.

So I was surprised - shocked, even - to find (for me) the PERFECT dumb-bell workout - on a Student Information site. Do students even care about working out and physical fitness?

Aren't they all supposed to be indoors watching Loose Women and Countdown? Jeez, when I was a student it was pizza, beer ansd smoking (tobacco, mostly) - we never cared one jot about our bodies. That was for later in life.

Anyway, I found this workout which is working well, for me, at least. Try it if you're hunting for the best upper-body-only routine - and get on your bike for the rest!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The WTW Moonwalk - London ...

WTW Moonwalk City in Hyde Park
Well, last Saturday went by in a blur. As did most of Sunday morning.

Arriving at the Hyde Park 'Moonwalk City' at 8.00pm, to meet the rest of Cycle Team B to assist in marshalling the Moonwalk, we set off later to patrol the streets of our Capital, helping the valiant walkers, 15,000 of them, to complete their marathon in aid of Walk The Walk, who provide funding to Breast Cancer charities.

Cycle Team B
What an epic night! The only downside was getting a puncture at 5.30am on Chelsea Bridge Road, quickly fixed, which allowed me to get back to the finishing area at Hyde Park. The last walkers trapsed in at about 10.00am, exhausted but happy. An emotional night and day for many.

Just a few of the 15000 walkers

Next up is the equivalent Day event, the Sunwalk on July 24th - volunteer here if you fancy it!

Photos are here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Linux Is Beautiful ...

Linux, of course, is the alternative to Windows that does everything Windows does, except crash, it has no viruses or spyware, and is beautiful. And free. This is my current desktop.

[click for full size to see in all it's glory]

Monday, May 09, 2011

Seething Wells Community Sports Day - Chaotic, Anarchic, and Wonderful ... !

Remember those dark days at school when you were forced to wear grotty plimsolls and take part in the egg-and-spoon, the sack race, and the legendary three-legged? With all children allocated to 'houses' ?

The events
These classic British events are long-gone in many schools - but the Seething Wells Community brought them back on Saturday at the Community Sports Day - for adults as well as kids. It was a warm, sunny day for families, for picnics, and of course a day to celebrate the local legend of Lefi the Goat Boy (it's a long story) ...

Cheese Rolling
At Victoria Park in Surbiton, marquees promoting local sports clubs and organisations, some local food (and of course a beer tent) surrounded the field of battle where all the action took place. In the spirit of the day, the rule-enforcing was quite rightly flexible... (usually dependant on the age of the competitor!) and all the better for it - a little handicapping, perhaps, to help the young 'uns catch up!

Sack Race
But rules were strictly enforced for adults - (even for the local community WPC who entered the egg-and-spoon race and was clearly seen to 'thumb' the egg in place.)

Three Legged Race

The day culminated in a hard-fought tug-of-war tournament with between 20 and 30 adults and kids on either end, before the awards ceremony. In the end I didn't even find out which 'house' won - but it really didn't matter!

Kings Soup Race
What a mad, anarchic, fun day - something that the Seething Wells Community - driven by Robin H - seems to specialize in, with events such as Bread Roll Golf, Ski Sunday (in Summer), Hungry Hippos, The Giant MouseTrap, the Life-Size Buckaroo and of course the celebration of the Legend of Lefi The Goat Boy.

Even the weather gods smiled - a light drizzle stopped a few hours before the event - then started again a few hours after the finish!

Osama's Last Facebook Message ...

The WTW Moonwalk - Next Weekend ... !

Next Weekend is the legendary London MoonWalk !

This year I'm running Cycle Marshall Team 'B' - so we'll be out on the route, helping, directing, protecting and encouraging all the wonderful walkers.

It's a privilege take care of you all!

Moonwalk City, Hyde Park
This, of course, is the massive London event organised by 'Walk The Walk' (total raised - £59 Million over 14 years) where thousands of women, (and not a few men) walk a 26-and-a-bit mile marathon distance around the beautiful centre of London. At night. Err, wearing a fetchingly decorated bra.

Moonwalk City, Hyde Park
It's also happening in Edinburgh, and even Iceland this year. But for London - it's going to be another epic. 'Moonwalk City' is already built in Hyde Park.

If you're walking the walk this year - we'll be there for you.

This absolutely brilliant video from last year's MoonWalk is my favourite:

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Benefits Cuts, Suicide Risks, And Deaths ...

Benefits cuts are leading to an increase of suicide risks among claimants. Even the Government agrees.

Otherwise, why would the Department for Work and Pensions send out guidelines on how to deal with suicide threats from claimants [The Guardian] ?

Since April, when I blogged about Jobcentres "Tricking People" Out Of Benefits it would seem that, many more people than usual have had their benefits not just cut, but queried, investigated, suspended - and even refused. On the breadline, it's understandable that some of these people - unable to even eat or feed their children - would suffer stress, depression, and even resort to the last possible, desperate course of action.

This is of course, a separate issues from those refused ESA benefits because they are judged 'able to work' - and subsequently dying from the illnesses that caused themn to be unable to work in the first place.

The Guardian article quotes "a senior jobcentre employee who has worked for the DWP for more than 20 years" as saying "Absolutely nobody has ever seen this guidance before, leading staff to believe it has been put together ahead of the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance cuts."

So it looks on the surface as if the Government knew that this would be the result, and went ahead with their queries, investigations, suspentions and refusals - regardless.

I guess some people have to die to fix the economy, while the rich get richer - and give less and less to charity.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sex And Coffee 'Trigger Stroke' ...

According to BBC News, a combination of sex and coffee may 'trigger a stroke'.

Is nothing safe now? I thought 'safe sex' was, well, safe. And I don't drink much alcohol, but I AM a coffee-holic.

I guess I'm just screwed either way.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Make Your MP Work Harder ... !

Yes! 2 AV - It's Not Complicated, Says Dan Snow ...

Historian Dan Snow (OK, I'm a fan...) is one of many of us who is furious that the No2AV Campaign are basing their objections to Fairer Votes by saying... er... it's a bit complicated for the average voter to understand.

They state that the AV is "a complicated, expensive and unfair system" - when in fact, it is, of course, relatively simple, costs more-or-less the same, and immensely fairer.

Good thing it's not, then!
Apart from the insult to the British Public, it's just not true - as Dan Snow explains in this video.

In this second video, Dan explains the historical perspective behind AV...