Today is day 266 of 2020. There’s only another 100 to go.
I’m not going to tempt fate (or give it ideas) by saying things couldn’t get worse. They could. Knowing the way this year’s gone so far, they probably will.
In the meantime, I’m going to be slightly altering the restaurant plans and bookings I’d already made for the rest of this year, following on from today’s (frankly bizarre) “everywhere’s got to close by 10pm” dictat.
I’m not sure what makes things safer by closing pubs, restaurants and food places by 10pm – as other restaurateurs have said, they’ve worked hard on making sure entry/exit times were staggered, whereas now it’s going to be a big exodus at one time.
It’s all just weird.
In an ideal world, I’d actually like a quiet life. Not in terms of being (and/or keeping) busy, but in terms of once I get home. Once I’m there, I’d quite happily have a place with no noise.
Yes, there’d be a TV and so on, but that’s all noise that I control. I’m thinking more at the moment about other stuff, the noise I can’t control, and that sometimes drives me crackers.
The Bengal is one of the main culprits on this, if I’m honest – as soon as I get home, I’m being shouted at. It’s not like she’s hungry or anything – she’s just shouty. Sometimes it’s even before I get through the door – if it’s late evening (even if I’ve popped home in the day to make sure she’s fed etc.) it’s not unknown for the sodding cat to be sat outside waiting for me, and shouting the moment she sees me, like a mum going “And what time do you call this!” And it doesn’t let up for bloody ages. It’s exhausting.
Alongside that, I have the joys of neighbours. Throughout the lockdown/shutdown/slowdown, they’ve both seemed determined to be out in their yards, playing music loudly, and having loudspeaker/hands-free conversations on their phones – and it’s even seemed like they’re in direct competition sometimes. So it’s not been unusual for me to come home and not even be able to open the back door, because of the noise war going on.
All I want is for things to be quieter. I’m generally super-tired at the moment, which also makes me more sensitive to it all, and far far grumpier about the entire thing.
Recently I’ve even been thinking about moving – some of which is because of those neighbours – although with the looming of Brexit etc., I’ve made the decision to not jump things just yet. But there’s still the potential for the same to happen again.
In some ways – hell, in most ways – I’d be happy to be a hermit, to be out in the middle of nowhere with zero human contact on a day-to-day basis. The only problem with that concept is that the really out-of-the-way places then don’t have the other thing I want/need in life – a decent speedy broadband connection.
I’m sure there’s a balance to be found somewhere, and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out. For now though it’s just a bit bloody annoying. </grouch>
I said a while ago that I’d write this, and then never got round to it. (I also thought I’d written it before, but a couple of searches didn’t find anything. Which is odd.)
Anyway. Back at the start of 2018, I did my semi-regular checkup visit at the local GP, which all worked out as “fairly healthy in general“. As usual, the main ‘problem’ was that I’m significantly heavier than I “should” be. So I asked for help from the GP, asked what they could do or suggest. And the response? “Oh, you’re not obese enough to get NHS treatment“. Well OK, that’s about as helpful as a kick in the cock.
So, being me, I pushed for some referrals – I already wanted to lose weight, but that kind of attitude really steamed my piss, and I wanted to get some better figures and find out more about what was going on. I’ve been logging my food intake for years now, and also keeping track of what I walk and so on, so I knew beforehand that my usual calorie intake was around the recommended 2,500 a day mark (albeit with some days/weekends of excess) and I walk an average of at least 10,000 steps a day.
First, I got a referral to Slimming World – and the less said about that, the better. An unremittingly negative and unhelpful experience all round.
I also got a referral to the Dietician service at Bedford Hospital, which wasn’t much more positive, but did end up with some good connections and results.
With the service, we tried a set of calorie-reduction diet plans, none of which worked. However, through it I also got a connection to the Uni of Beds’ Sport Science department, where I was able to (finally) get one of the tests done that I really wanted – an RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) test, to establish what level of energy I’m actually burning. RMR is basically a measure of the calories the body burns if it’s simply laying in bed doing nothing. No food intake, no exertion at all. It took about an hour to run from start to finish, and then a couple of weeks to crunch the data and produce a report.
So. My RMR is 2,800 calories a day – even if I just laid in bed and did sod all, I’d need more calories than the recommended 2,500 a day. Taking into account calories for digestion, as well as exertion, It’s likely I’m burning around 4,000 a day. (As it turns out, I did write about BMR/RMR – ten years ago!)
On the downside, this information never really sank in with the Dietician. They kept on insisting that eating less had to result in losing weight. And in all honesty, it should – but didn’t. Looking at the figures, I’m already taking in less than I’m expending, and dropping the intake simply widened the gap even further. All it did was leave me even more tired, and seriously grouchy.
It ended up with a bit of an argument as my sense of humour finally failed, I wrote a full bulleted list of what was happening (with all the information from above) and why I suspected things weren’t working. That actually finished things fairly positively, although they didn’t have any better suggestions once we were outside the standard answers.
Also along the way, I ended up joining a local group called “Gutless” for overweight men. It consisted of two hours a week, one of food education, and one of physical exercise and workouts. For me, I didn’t learn much from the food education, but the training was positive, and started me doing more than I had. And since the Gutless course finished, we’ve maintained the exercise routine with the same trainer, which has also remained positive.
All told, I feel happier with how things are – if nothing else, my health record contains the whole list of things tried from the Dietician, and the RMR figures from the Uni of Beds. It means that when the GP tries their “you’re overweight” thing again, they can see what’s been tried.
However, I don’t really know what the answer is. My food intake has stayed much the same (and some of those weekends of excess actually make me lose weight) and I do more, with the extra workouts twice a week, and the archery I’ve recently re-taken up as well as maintaining the walking I do. I’m far, far stronger than I was, my shape is better, my stamina is fearsome, and I feel far healthier – but somehow, my weight hasn’t actually changed in a good decade, no matter what I do.
I’d like to lose more some – it’s just that still, everything I try isn’t working. I think that at some point I’ll have to go back and get more data and ideas, but really I don’t yet even know the right questions to ask.
I’ll figure it out one day, I’m sure.
One thing I hope will be interesting – as and when the current lockdown is properly eased – is to see the things that people decide are important, the things they’ve actually missed, as opposed to the things they’ve just not been able to go to as part of a routine.
For example, I wonder if [big chain] coffee shops will suffer, as people have (hopefully) realised that they don’t need all that caffeine and sugar.
[Note : I amended this afterwards, following Gordon’s comment, because I’d particularly meant big-chain (Starbucks, Costa et al) places rather than independents/locals that definitely deserve the business and support]
On the evidence of the things that’ve currently re-started, I don’t think it’ll be the case – as soon as they’ve re-opened, there have been huge queues outside places like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.
It’ll be more interesting to see what happens longer-term, once the “Oh good, they’re back!” novelty value fades.
To be honest, it is (as expected) a bit of a car-crash, with mixed messages, bloody awful phrasing, and no real clarity on any of it.
So for me (and, I hope, for a lot of others) I’m sticking with my own Plan A, which is to carry on doing what I was doing before.
I’m still planning on mainly using my office – which is OK (so far as I can tell) because I go from a house on my own, to a car on my own, to an office on my own, with no real human contact at all, and thus an absolutely minimal chance of catching it, or passing it on. If my office building gets too crowded then I’ll re-assess and figure out a different plan. Until then, we’ll see.
Other than that, all I’m doing is keeping myself as safe from everything as possible, and hoping that everyone else is doing the same. Really, I don’t see that there’s anything else that can be done.
It’s a funny old time, with the lockdown and so on. I keep on meaning to write more here, and then forgetting to do so.
So, I’m going to keep on meaning to write more (and hopefully being more successful) but for now, well, I’m still here.
Following on from the post a while back about driver assistance things, I had another interesting one a few days ago.
I’d hired a Vauxhall Insignia in order to ferry people around a bit, and the weather was disgusting – heavy rain, lots of spray, and lots of idiots with no lights on.
Anyway, on the section of the M4 I was driving on, there were roadworks, and the lanes had been narrowed as a result. And that was where the problem came in.
The Insignia had the Lane Change Warning thing, which detects when the driver is drifting across lanes without indicating – and in the case of the Insignia, it also tries to push you back into the lane you’re departing. Not my favourite thing at the best of times, but in this case it was actually picking up on the wrong lane markings (because they were glossy and shiny in the rain) and so actually kept on pushing me “back” towards the crash barriers, and would have left me scraping along them if I’d not been paying attention.
I can understand why it happened, and how. It was also easy enough for me to sort things out (eventually by turning off the Lane Change completely) but I can also easily see how things could’ve gone wrong, if I were the sort of driver who relied on these aids, who didn’t pay attention, or left those aids to do things because they’re there to help.
And what would’ve happened in that situation if it were a fully autonomous (“self-driving”) vehicle with no controls, or potentially people who didn’t drive, or couldn’t understand the danger signs?
There’s still a way to go on these things, I think…