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.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Last Decent Man In Westminster, Tony Benn, Still Very Ill...

[Please see the update at the foot of the post]

I've always been a fan of Tony Benn. Not perhaps all his views, but he speaks his mind in a way that current politicians wouldn't ever dare dream of.

He's pretty ill right now, and my tweet of his 5 Questions has been the most-retweeted on my account ever. Time, then, to post it here, too.


14th March 2014 - Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn passed away peacefully, at his home, aged 88.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Top 30 Not-So-Serious Unanswered Points From #Sherlock Series III ...

After watching Series III of Sherlock about 5 times (ok, it was more like 8...) there's a few questions I have. Not serious ones, not much about plot points (I'll leave that to Tumblr) - more about some random thoughts that crossed my mind ...

So here we go ...

What was the bungee cable connected to, his coat? Major fail. That Belstaff coat is damn good for £1350 but I doubt it's tensile strength would withstand Benedicts weight. Still, maybe Sherlock could tell me, he did after all, write a piece on fibre tensile strengths.

Seriously, I'm a biker (a bigger bike than this little Yamaha, though) and no-one stops me in the road and demands my ride. No-one alive, anyway. No biker gives away his ride and certainly not his helmet - it's like lending your girlfriend out for the evening. Ain't gonna happen.

I'm also a keen cyclist. I know this guy was part of the big 'Lazarus' plot, but honestly, no helmet and riding on the pavement? Tsk, tsk.

There's always a 'Off' switch, eh? Oh, good. Bomb Disposal Squads all over the world, you can breathe a sigh of relief. All those years of training were never required.

This kid. Borderline social skills ('No', 'No', 'Why?', 'What for?') - interested in murder ('Cool!') *and* provides Sherlock with the critical clue at the wedding ('Mr Holmes, it was the invisible man with the invisible knife!') - he's basically Sherlock Mk2, in training, isn't he? Step aside, Billy Wiggins. Sherlock has a new protege.

So Sherlock really did bring handcuffs to the wedding? Without knowing there'd be a crime to solve, or anyone to arrest? Two possibilities. Either he felt John and Mary might need, er inspiration, or he had plans with Janine. (Okay, in the end, we know he did) But seriously, handcuffs on a first date?

I'm a chef. Rule 1 - You don't let a unsupervised waiter anywhere near a meat thermometer. Waiters are simple souls and meat thermometers are sharp. And expensive.

Come on, has *no* London Tea Shop put 'Earl Grey with Eyeball' on the menu yet? I'd pay for that. Although my tea-drinking expert friends say that it'd be better with Darjeeling.

These two better get together in Series IV or there'll be trouble. Just saying.

Just *what* was in the one, single matchbox among 1000's surrounding a dead man that wasn't empty? We need to know. It's not ACD canon, so I can't find it. I hate that.

So after the 'Earl Grey with Eyeball' not appearing in Tea Shops all over England, now I find that if I ask for precisely 442.7ml of beer in my local, I just get a funny look. Sherlock gets served. Life is really not fair.

I know there's an app for everything, but seriously, is there really an app that tells you how drunk you are depending on your intake and length of visit to the bathroom? Some programmers have way too much time on their hands.

Sherlock simultaneously uses 7 laptops. Has he never heard of multiple tabs?

Am I the only one who needed to know what her '10 things about a perfect man' were? Bearing in mind her perfect evening out was a 'In a dungeon' this is a character we like.

Sherlock, one word, okay? eCigarette. It's easier on the lips than 13 fags in the mouth at once, even unlit.

Award for briefest but most unexpected and very welcome guest appearance. Is their even a Bafta for that? There should be.

Talking of Baftas, can they be split three ways? These three, equally deserving.

How many practice attempts, Benedict, for this leap? How many broken glasses?

For Molly, slapping Sherlock is getting to be a full-time job. She gets away with it because she's a BAMF. But it is starting to verge on physical abuse now, okay?

Was I the only one who gave a cheer when Sherlock said "White Supremacist, ignore him" ? See, Far-Right Extremists, those racist beliefs will kill you in time.

Best line of the spisode - "That wife !! Pfttt !" Again, award for best guest appearance to Andrew Scott, to be shared with Lara Pulver.

We can't see behind the mask, but I assume this doctor has no facial hair. Remember, Sherlock prefers his Doctors to be clean-shaven. He'd be really disappointed to find out he was cut up by a Doc with a Goatee.

Am I the only one to think, when seeing the Appledore mansion, "Jeez, what are his heating bills like?"

I hope we see - and hear - more of Janine, played by Yasmine Akram. That voice, that accent. Gorgeous.

I believe it's highly illegal to damage or deface the Coin of the Realm. Still, that's the last of Mary's worries. Mostly, am I the only one thinking "Did Mary ever get her 50p back?"

Sherlock, detective and dragon slayer. Mycroft, effectively runs the British Intelligence Service. Yet both are smoking in secret because they're both a bit scared of Mummy. I find that hilarious.

The moment, I think, when Sherlock realised that his plan had gone awry and his only hope now was to shoot Magnussen, saving Mary (and thus John) but which would mean jail or exile, or either way separation from his friend. He takes one last look. That's how I read it.

"You know what happened to the other one" - WHAT OTHER ONE?

At this point even most male viewers understood the pain. I can't recall this scene from the first viewing, my vision was a big blurred. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

And finally, the myth debunked. Moriarty appears on screen as Mrs Hudson vacuums Sherlocks flat. That's Mrs Hudson, who always claimed "I'm your landlady, dear, not your housekeeper". Also Exotic Dancer and Drug Cartel Administration.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Complaints Against The Press - Why The #PCC Is Failing ...

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is described as "a voluntary regulatory body for British printed newspapers and magazines, consisting of representatives of the major publishers."

Two key words there.

'Voluntary' is the worst of them. While censorship has been - and still is a - dirty word, the mainstream Press has successfully fought off third-party decision making in media complaints for years. And the publications don't even have to subscribe to the code - don't bother complaining if you have a beef against the Express or Star titles, they take no part in the process and are immune from the PCC. 

The second is 'Representatives' - yes, the papers bosses all rule on each other, with a wink and a nudge and an unspoken 'quid pro quo'.

Of course, I have no proof of this. At all. But the secrecy, lack of transparency and failure to act in the Phone-Hacking Scandal leads media-watchers to wonder what they're hiding. 

But I found a recent article in the Huffington Post by Professor Brian Cathcart, Director of Hacked Off, very interesting indeed. The Daily Mail - among *all* publications - accounts for over 36%, over 1/3 of complaints - way ahead of the next challenger, The Sun, at a mere 19%.

Here's the table ...

The man responsible for this is the Editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. Do the PCC castigate him? Berate him? No, of course not.

They let him run the Editors' Code Of Practice Committee instead.
"It is obvious that the PCC's mission is to do the opposite of the naming and shaming that many national newspapers insist is so important in other walks of life. Instead the PCC covers up."