Four Weeks

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Today marked the end of Krissa's and my fourth week in Weight Watchers, but it was our fifth meeting.

For the first time since we started, and maybe through acclimatisation, or familiarity, I'm not sure, I felt quite all right about the group format and the dynamic of a meeting which in previous weeks has seemed to have only the most tangential connection with weight loss and health.

Deb and Alex have been coming to our meeting spot for the last three weeks, and it's nice to have them around; I think that might help with the whole group dynamic.

Anyway, I'll get to the nitty gritty. I'm stalling, aren't I?

Okay, well this week saw a lot of good things; I ran two miles for the first time last Thursday, tried yoga (with a undefinable degree of success) on Friday, ran a little again on Saturday, and today, a crowning moment, I ran two and a half miles only taking one gentle jogging lap out of the ten to get my breathing regular after the preceding eight wore me down a little, and the tenth was the fastest by far.

So, yes.
This week I lost another 4lb, making it 13.6lb total in the preceding four weeks.
I feel great, and I'm starting a short-term job tomorrow morning at 9am.

Cheerio for a bit then, people.
I'm sure I'll update somehow - but even if I don't, I'm not gone...I'm working.

Try Anything Twice

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Well, it's a rainy day in the city.

I've had a bit of a day today.

I've had confirmation that I start a short-term job on Wednesday, and an official 'vacancy on-hold' notification from another job I shouldn't have set my heart on, but did.

Anyway, readers of a doggedly stalkerish persuasion will be able to find this here blogger somewhere within the extensive and maze-like network of what may or may not be the world's largest department store as of Wednesday.
Not doing what you might expect, either.

As any casual thinker might realise, catchy one-line mottos are not the key to life. There is more to the whole lark than can be summed up in the kind of clause which fits well on a bumper sticker or a blog tagline.

Seize the day is a good start, but the price for seizing the day is working with the consequences afterwards. They could be good, they could be bad.

The good part is that as far as I've got with 'Carpe Diem' as a life plan, it's totally worth it.

Yesterday afternoon after exhausting monster, careerbuilder and craigslist of all they had to offer, I went out for a jog.

It was about five o'clock. The sky had been grey all afternoon and there was an edge to the air but as I walked along the street towards the river the wind was refreshing rather than icy, and the lights of the stores were starting to come on.

As I got to the running track I started off at a medium pace and kept it up for a couple of laps. At this point it's nice to have Krissa come in and keep the pace down for her mile or so. This may sound patronising, but it really isn't - her legs are shorter than mine. I managed to regulate myself and run pretty gently for a mile and three quarters (or 2800m, for those playing along at home with a slide rule) and then cranked the speed up again. The lights of Manhattan were coming on across the river and on the final lap I got three quarters of the way around and stepped up to a loping run, a real run, not jogging, and it felt really, really good to curl around the bend going fast to come into the end of a two mile run and know I could keep going.

'I could get into this fitness lark,' I thought to myself on the way home.

This morning Krissa and I got up a little earlier than usual. Something about the last few mornings has lead me to be really, really reticent to stick my bonce out of the covers into the light of day. I've no idea what it is - it's not as cold as it was, but hey, maybe I have an intermittent grumpylazy gene. All I know is that I am simultaneously at my most grumpy and witty in those five/ten/fifteen/thirty minutes between waking up and actually getting out of bed.

We were getting up early to do yoga.
I figure that yoga is for thin bendy people. Flexible. Rubber boned. People who are philosophical towards the higher things in life, like measured and even breathing, the infinite, chiropractor bills. Things like that.
It was precisely this rationale which lead me to give it a go, because, well, why not?

The video, picked up in a fit of enthusiasm after Tuesday's Weight Watcher's meeting, touted a twenty minute workout, which anyone could fit into their day.
Hurrah!

This morning I found out what it was like to try yoga while conspicuously not being thin and bendy.
And the answer is: grunty.
Now I can do push ups, although I'd appreciate it if you didn't ask me to prove this in public, so I was able to do the sequence which seemed to be a very slow, yoga-fied burpee.

Starting in the upper bit of a push-up, you drop slowishly to the ground, and then lift your upper body up into 'The Cobra' which reminds me of how a Terminator might move around if you chopped its legs off, down again, and then back into the 'Downward Facing Dog' which reminds me of Douglas Bader attempting to stand up after landing on his face after being shot down in Nazi Germany....sort of.

And that was the bit I could do, and it appeared mercifully regularly, leading me gently and repeatedly away from the apparent conclusion that I am a completely malco-ordinated lump who can't use his limbs properly.

While Krissa, on the other side of the living room, gracefully extended her hand above her head with a soft theatrical sweeping turn of the palm, I was slowly tottering over whilst trying not to knock the candles over on the coffee table, and receiving a not insignificant amount of hate mail from my leg muscles in the process.

At the end of the twenty minutes, when I was unintentionally splayed out on the carpet, the annoyingly sinuous woman on the television slid oilily into the lotus position and encouraged Krissa and I to sit cross legged and do holding-a-captive-hamster style hand movements to, and I quote, "Seal in the benefits of the exercise."

I interpreted this my own way and staggered off to make a cup of tea.

Namaste, indeed.

Neige Noir

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New York's Winter was like an old dog. Sure, he wasn't long for this world, but he still had teeth. And that street-smart mutt knew just how to use them.

Ice cold rain and snow slew down flashing orange and grey under the street lights, making everything dirty, everything close, and wet, too real.

Night and Winter closed everything down. The lights of Manhattan were lost through the teeth of the dying dog, and a battered out of town SUV was beating out a staccato horn as the snow and rain set off its alarm, over and over again.

It was a hard night. Not a night to be out.
But we all know about nights like that in New York, don't we.

My partner turned to me.
"Are you coming?"
"No," I said. "Yes."
"Come on, I'm going to be a vigilante for justice," said my partner. "What shall I wear?"

Noo Bannah

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It might be a lot less fun than the last one, and it was certainly put together by someone with lesser expertise in Photoshop than the last one, but there is a new banner here at autoblography.co.uk.

A poor effort, but my own.

Thanks to Nutsyfagan for use of the New York skyline photograph.

Three Weeks

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Lost only 1.2 lb this past week.

This is not a slowdown, this is the scientific result of the week just past.
We had St. Patrick's Day.
Hem.
We had Friday, our anniversary.
Ahem.
Then Saturday night there was the friends over for dinner, and there was the whiskey.
Ahemhemhem.

So, yeah. Cause and effect.

Oh, and all the nuts.
But hey; we've been running a lot, and I'm sure I'll be breaking through the 2-miles-before-8am barrier this coming week.

That makes 9.6lb total lost in three weeks, and next week will be better.

Brother and Sister

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This is me and my younger sister, Jemma, taken at a portrait photographer's just before I left the UK in October.

My sister is pretty brilliant. Let me tell you a little bit about her, over and above the fact that, after this post, she will almost certainly kill me next time I see her.

She is a final year student at Portsmouth University, studying Psychology. Studying Psychology rather well, as it happens. She has yet to take her final exams, but she is already setting her sights on a Doctorate after a year or so of work experience. She's like that. The run of the mill challenges are just a lead up to what she has her eye on. Something she gets from her Dad, really.

Jemma lives with her boyfriend Tom in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. They have a cat called Gumbo, who turned out to be a girl and now goes by the name of Gumpy, Gumpykins and any other of the thousands of variations on the nickname theme. Some of my favourite names for the cat are our Dad's inventions; Goulash and Stroganoff.

Jemma is the best arguer or debater I know.
As children, she and I were, in Mum's words, like cat and dog. Mum never elaborated as to who was who, but I know this: Jemma never lost. After twenty minutes of arguing a point, IF, emphasis on the IF, Jemma realised that she may not have been in the winning corner at the start, then I found that there was an entirely new argument in play - who had held which view to begin with and hence got to claim victory. As tactics go, I could never and never have bettered this. As a result I either agree with Jemma or keep quiet. I lived in fear that she would move into Law until she started out towards a stellar career in Psychology instead.

As children, the only time I can remember getting one up on Jemma I was so surprised that I never told anyone until I felt comfortably past the statute of limitations, that is to say, after we had an ocean between us and I knew for a fact that she and Tom don't keep firearms in the house.
When we were 9 and 6 respectively and after a petty squabble (which I lost, of course), I took a pencil and wrote 'I am 6' in a rough attempt at her handwriting, at her height, on the wall on the stairs. She got into trouble and I was so shocked that I had gotten away with it, I didn't breathe a word about it until about six months ago.

Jemma came to visit me a couple of times when I was at university; once in the first year, resulting in me being banned from having guests (damn you, Jem, and your post-midnight hellraiser-style toast-making).

We spent long wonderful summers with Mum on the beach at Ventnor.

We've been through a lot together; I've stood by and not laughed at the sight of her with certain boyfriends in the past, stayed loyal and supportive through the time she painted her bedroom pink when our parents were on holiday, and she has always been there for me, too - getting too drunk on Carnival night, endless lifts, a critical, honest, eye, belonging to one who knows that my general life meandering can be a little too laid back.

Jemma is my sister and I love her, but I've been terrible at keeping in touch lately.

On Friday, in the midst of a great sunny day's activities with Krissa, we got home to find a couple of messages on our answering machine - from my Mum. While walking around campus Jemma was hit by a car, a car which, thankfully, wasn't going very fast. It knocked Jemma over, and, despite no one quite knowing how, she fell in the foetal position, and she fell forwards onto her bag, which, being the dedicated student she is, was full of large, squidgy textbooks.
While being told to relax and wait for the ambulance, Jemma thought of nothing but trying to get someone else to hand in her coursework. I'm telling you; this girl is something else.
After being checked over and pronounced medically fit apart from bruising, Jemma then proceeded to go back to Campus to hand in her coursework, to what I can only imagine would be the slack-jawed awe of her colleagues and tutors.

This shock was enough to get me to wake up and call her - there's an awful lot of sea between us and I can't do a hell of a lot from here, and the least I can do is keep in touch.

She's at home, and has Tom and cute little Bouillabaise for company, but I wanted to write a post about her, tell her that I remember playing on the beach in the rain, keeping an eye out for her at St. Wilfrid's breaktime, studiously avoiding each other most of the rest of our school careers, but all the time growing up as brother and sister.

Also, Jem?

Watch where you're bloody going next time, okay?

Opportunity Knocks

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I have an interview in Dumbo tomorrow morning.

That's not as perverted as it sounds.

Wish me luck.

Precisely one year ago, this here blogger was a little drunk.

It wasn't my fault; Air India had been extremely generous with their complimentary drink. I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and born of a desire to get my money's worth, I was on the other end of a small plastic glass full to the brim with whiskey. The nice lady in the purple sari also gave me two glasses filled with white-crazed ice to drink it with.

On the other hand and far below I was getting my first view of Arctic ice. Grey rolls of intricate waves lapped and strove around a stray iceberg, made tiny and insignificant by distance and the wide expanse of water. Then Greenland came, and after ten minutes of staring with an open mouth at the nunataks and snow I was asked to shut the window.

I half-dozed in a haze of Ballantine's whiskey.

So that's where I was one year ago. A year and a few hours ago, I wrote this blog post, sitting on a wobbly stool in front of a BT internet terminal with a dodgy metal spacebar key as people in kaftans and turbans and levi 501s walked by in the peoplewatching heaven that is Heathrow Departures.

A little less than one year ago; call it a year and six hours' time, I met Krissa, at the top of the stairs of Shiv's apartment in Brooklyn. She stumbled getting up to greet me, and smiled. Nine days later I asked her to marry me.

One year ago today.

Housekeeping With Amon Tobin

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My head is frazzled.

I've just been cleaning for an hour or so listening to Amon Tobin on my personal CD player in a bid to try and keep my brain at least as occupied as it is when it is playing on the internet.
And damn, my brain is buzzing.

That's some music that is.

Speaking of music, and the considerable someness thereof, there is an important event coming up in the New York calendar.

Tomorrow night, at The C Note, the simply fabulous The Shivs are playing.

The bar is here, entrance is free, and the kids are on at 7pm, so it's the perfect way to kick-start one hell of an evening's festivities for the Feast of St. Patrick. A lack of snakes at the bar is practically guaranteed for exactly this purpose.

If you haven't already been over to have a prod around at theshivs.com, I'd recommend it. I know we bloggers are a loose community, but we have our regular reads, so you might like to know that the lead in The Shivs is none other than Shivery Timbers, ably assisted by DJRaindog in addition to the non-blogging musical titans that are Dom and Ben. Their site was even designed and the photos taken by none other than Jason, and the design is a cut above. It's awe-inspiring to see the effort, style and verve that these guys have come up with when they're really going for it, and believe me, the music is even better.

At the risk of sounding cliched (which no one wants), check it out.

And to be honest, I have no idea about the lack of snakes. I was on a roll, it seemed the right thing to say. If you happen to have a vial of antivenom knocking about the place, you know, feel free to bring some. You might not need it, but hey, it doesn't hurt to be prepared, right?

Happy St. Patrick's Day, world.

Two Weeks

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At tonight's Weight Watcher's meeting I was weighed again and the difference between this week and the last was 3.6lb, making a total of 8.4lb lost since we started two weeks ago.

Not bad, but if I keep up this rate of loss much longer they're going to tell me to eat more.

Humph.

Ice, Ice Baby.

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I can't say I'm overly surprised at this article about safety at Boston's 'Big Dig'.

Having been 'in' tunnels before and following the project reasonably closely, I realised things may not have been properly thought out the second they announced they were pumping liquid nitrogen into the ground around the workface to ensure support for the surface.

$14.6 billion.
You could do a lot with that.

The Ides Have It

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Krissa and I watched the final four episodes of Sex and the City last night, courtesy of netflix.

For some reason I feel like I live in New York more now than I did yesterday afternoon. I am a sap, an impressionable fool. But still.

It got me thinking; a lot of days I spend here in Queens, trawling the job websites and wasting time on the internet, nipping out to one of our two closest grocery stores, running at the track next to the Triborough Bridge. Say what you like about the sprawl of New York, this part of Queens is less hectic than most of Manhattan, and as the subway train pulls above ground after passing under the East River it feel like a relief, a coming home.

When confronted with the hurrying masses, maybe there's a little part of you which says 'Okay, so everyone's heading somewhere, everyone is rushing. Where are my goals? Where am I going?'
In those given to such introspection, anyway, I'm sure that's part of it.

The city more or less demands that you do something. It's difficult to imagine living in New York and not being hungry, not wanting something, not dreaming, or lusting after something. It could be work promotion, your band, your writing, your dream job, hitting it big, achieving your dreams.

One of the things I like to look back at university for is that everyone was working towards something; everyone had a goal, and everyone was working towards it and there was an air of hope about the place. Everyone was going somewhere.

It's not that different here, really, when you think about it.

Happy Ides of March.

The Ayes Have It

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What do I do now?

The job websites are posting jobs I've already applied for, and in such small quantities that you'd think everyone just had two days off.

I've rung and emailed all those fortunate enough to have recieved an application from me over the past three weeks or so, and now I am sitting here doing the internet equivalent of twiddling my thumbs.

I want to go out and get some exercise but even if I feel fine in myself my throat is still sore and I don't want to back my immune system into a corner and force it to do anything drastic.

Might go out for a walk instead of a run.

Anyway. I've got a couple of jobs in the pipeline I am confident about, and I'm gently and politely hounding the recruitment agencies out of their homes until they want to get rid of me...by giving me a job.

I'm listening to the new Athlete album, 'Tourist', as well as the St. Germain album, 'Tourist', Mint Royale, Nitin Sawhney, Massive Attack and Blink 182. I'm coming to the end of reading the four 'Earthsea' books by Ursula Le Guin again, a bit of unabashed comfort-reading, and before that I read and hugely enjoyed 'Middlesex' by Geoffrey Eugenides.

The Weight Watchers thing has taken a predictable twist - I eat more or less healthily, but I lack the motivation to look up how many points a certain thing is leading me to guess where I am in my allocation for the day.
This means that I'm dieting, if you'll pardon the expression, by the seat of my pants.

The summer is panning out ahead of us while the snow is still on the ground. I can't believe I've been in the US so long. I need a job, I need to be able to have the power to plan. I am getting restless.

Cripes

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My erstwhile (current) hosting company, supanames.co.uk re-enabled the comments. How kind of them. I'm not entirely sure what was different purely because I complained, but...hey.
Things is back up and running.

I know at least two of you wanted to vent about the Athlete post, so...now you can. Comments, laughter, and/or abuse about the beard are all now possible as well.

Be gentle.

Heckamon

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There's one hell of a lot of snow up here in Rhode Island.

I feel odd writing a post when you guys can't comment back. It's like talking to someone with tape across their mouth. Interesting in terms of trying to imagine the reactions, but ultimately a monologue.

There will be a change of hosting in the future for autoblography.co.uk, rest assured.

So; how about that local sports team?

Mein Hosts

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Ladies and Gentlemen, my hosting company, supanames.co.uk have once again suspended all permissions on my comments script.

They haven't told me this, I just know, because last time it happened I had to contact them to find out what had happened. They're very like that. Do something without telling you, and then have to look into what they did and why.

This annoys me. Here's what happened last time.

Okay. Posting email after email is a little dull. The actual emails are in the extended entry, but can be summarized thus:

Me: WTF? Comments?
Them: Oh, hi. Yeah, we disabled them. They were bad.
Me: What do you mean, bad? How?
Them: They were bad, man.
Me: How bad? Is THIS the problem?
*pause*
Me: I reckon that was the problem. I've re-enabled them.

*long pause*

Me: WTF! Comments!
Them: Yeah, man, sorry, they were bad.
Me: BAD! They're NOT OPEN. Tell me how they are bad.
Them: No, you tell ME why they were bad. They were really bad. How'd they get so bad, huh?
Me: How the fuck should I know? Is it THIS?
Them: Please hold, we'll get back to you.

Read on if you feel the need.

Not Too Shabby

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The Finished Article

As opposed to before, anyway. I like to think that now it's been reined in from 6 weeks of untampered growth, it'll fill out. For lack of anything better to do.

Disappointment Insurance

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Can there be anything more fundamentally disappointing than the slow and grittily dawning realisation that your favourite band's new album is crap?

You will have launched yourself at the case, put the CD into the nearest player and thrown yourself into the listening with gusto and enthusiasm, but only the most die-hard fan will allow their mania to disillusion them into believing that the objects of their affection are still good, that they've still got it.

Onto this cold and dusty plain dawns a misty light of realisation; that the other album or albums are all you have, and you have to go back to them now.

Do you know the feeling?
Readers blessed with either stamina or a high pain threshold might recall that a number of my website taglines last year came from the debut album of a band called Athlete; Vehicles and Animals. And god, don't I love that album.
I have listened to the follow-up, 'Tourist' about six times now, and that realisation has dawned on me. It's good, with more than a few of the sorts of touches that made me love their first album...but it's not that good.

And I feel so disappointed that instead of just saying 'Ho hum, that's that then', I want to BLAME somebody, I want to email the band with a stern "OI!".

Come ON, members of the band Athlete. You could clearly have done better. I mean, for starters, recording the album in New York. BIG mistake. You'll have had more distraction outside that studio than in, say, Skegness. Or Bognor. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about here.

You can't send your butler out for a packet of crisps.

I'll make no bones about it; I like a couple of the songs, but there are tunes on the album which wouldn't be out of place in the background at my local supermarket, and they regularly play that dirgey ballady song by Daniel Bedingfield, so that's no idle comparison.

I'm disappointed, Athlete, but I'll buy the next album if there is one. Y'know. Just in case. You could grow back.

Taking all of this in mind, I am now going off to trim six weeks' worth of beard growth, no doubt with shaking hands.
Brace yourselves for a disappointment.

Krissa is off work today. This is obviously a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
Krissa is ill today. This is a bad thing.
I'm not so well either. This is clearly a tragedy of biblical proportions.
Anyway.

I'm off out to buy some chicken soup. And some weight-watchers friendly comfort food, if such a thing can be found.
Hell, I always used to have Lucozade as a kid when I caught cold or had 'flu...how do I fit that into the points system?

Bugger it, I say.

One Week

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So; second Weight Watchers meeting tonight, and my second weigh in.

I lost 4.8lb in the last week.

Considering that I know, myself, that I wasn't *that* good, I feel like I'm cheating in some way. If not, then FANTASTIC. I can still go to a brilliant party on a Saturday night, getting more than a little merry meeting all sorts of interesting people, and still lose weight.

However, I went jogging twice and overall watched what I was meant to be watching - portions and the points scheme that Weight Watchers runs on - so the question beckons...what can I do if I am *that* good? Then again losing more than that in a week can't be all that healthy...

We'll see how it goes.

Confusr

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If anyone's a little confused about the sudden surge of randomly sequenced images in my flickr profile, don't worry, I'm just transferring a load of pics from elsewhere on the web...although in retrospect I could have done it with slightly more organisation.


Um.
Although it's kind of interesting to see them all jumbled up like that.

One Metric Fuckload

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Ah, infinite are the arguments of metrologists.

The US runs on what they call 'English' units, which are, to Britain, what we call 'Imperial' units - feet, inches, pounds, ounces both fluid and, er, not fluid.

The metric system is, as it was in pre-metric Britain, regarded as being a bit odd.
I think this is because of how people encounter it on a daily basis, and, as more and more packaging lists both measures, it is the most frequent point of contact, and it gives an erroneous impression to those who are familiar with one system over another.

To seize a couple at random from our kitchen: a half gallon carton of milk. To the casual eye, half a gallon is so much simpler than 1.89 litres. One point eight nine litres? Jeez. Give me gallons any day, they're so much easier.

A little tube of seasoning weighs a nice, even, 8oz.
Or a confusing and unneccessarily detailed 226g.

Krissa and I went running on Saturday and I hit what I have to smilingly call a milestone: we started jogging around the track and after three laps Krissa stopped to take a breather and I kept going and managed five laps, the latter two of which were at a passably respectable pace.

In my mind I worked this out as:
1 lap = 400m
5 laps = 2000m

And so when she had started sprinting next to me as I came into the end of the fifth lap, making me work for it, the cheeky minx, I announced breathlessly that I had run two kilometres.

Krissa was working on:
4 laps = 1 mile.

Conversations on the finer points of the metric system are not the easiest things to get straight when both parties are struggling to get ten words to a breath, but we got it straightened out on the corner of the block when Krissa said:

"Oh! So two thousand metres is two kilometres?" (only she said it with the rs and es the other way around, naturally)
"Yes."
"That's easy. There are 5280 feet in a mile."
"Right."

And again, last night, we picked up a large-ish bottle of mineral water on our way home from Brunch in Brooklyn which was more metric-centric, and again the casual observer would be heavily prejudiced against the system which seemed more complicated.

1 litre of Poland Spring is 1 Quart and 1.8 Fluid Ounces.

I know there is narrative and colloquial imperative - I think of my weight in stones and pounds, my height in feet and inches, and my distances in miles. But I've been trained as an engineer and science is so much easier...anything where you need to play with quantities and properties, is easier in metric.

I confess I get a little defensive at what amounts to an easy target for comedy and ridicule, when the only point of contact people have to go on is whether their packaging was designed for a nice round number in one system or another.

Still; I was proud about the 2km milestone.
Kilometrestone.
Whatever.

Let Me Be Frank

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I hate spam.

I hate that everyone feels that, in their own little way, a little self-promotion doesn't hurt.

I hate that my morning Monster.com email takes me to a list of jobs which has been spammed by the US Naval Reserve to highlight in bold the fact that, while they do not have jobs in every county in New York State they would like you to think that they do - so they feel happy enough to list their desire to recruit 63 times.

This is the US Naval Reserve. These aren't the myriad, innumerable hordes of porn sites, drug sites and free iPod-toting site runners, whose purpose in life is to jump in your face and scream the dubious goodness of their wares.

I have a little thing where I've blocked comments across all my old posts as well as MT Blacklist, but still the odd bot leaves it's soil in a post from the last week or so, and it's dispiriting.

Anyway. This isn't why I have this website - to moan about the difficulties and displeasures of having a website.

So I'll shut up about it now.

Tea and Crumpet

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Yesterday I had the privelige of meeting the charming Lady Crumpet for tea at Tea and Sympathy in the Village.

A brief bit of double-taking ensued as Lucy Liu or someone who was masquerading as Lucy Liu by looking exactly the same down to the tininess and the freckles got up and left after I asked after the fat-free celery soup. Some days I can't do anything right.

Anyway. Tea and Sympathy looks like a small British tearoom from somewhere like Bath, only transplanted to New York and so with an enormous air-conditioning unit and epic ventilation box section snaking across the ceiling. But in a nice way.

It was also an odd thing to me, odd as this being odd may seem to those of you used to a higher standard of oddity round these parts, for all of the wait staff to be British. One of the waitress's accents matched my Yorkshire Gold tea, and summoned to mind a hundred teenage evenings while my family looked at the TV above my head watching 'Coronation Street' (I didn't mind being the one at the round kitchen table facing the other way). There were British accents at a lot of the tables, too.

I was fascinated by one guy who came in shortly after we had recieved our 'British Monarchs' themed teapots. This man wore rugged weathered jeans and trainers, and as he nodded to the staff he shrugged off a heavy coat which looked like it had seen several thousand better days. He ordered bangers and mash with beans and pulled out, of all things, a copy of the Daily Mirror.
Everything about him screamed 'Trucker'...apart from his context. It was as though he had been plucked from Knutsford Services on the Northbound M6 and dropped just outside a small theme cafe in the West Village.

The tea, the company, and yes, the fat-free celery soup as well; they were all excellent.

Which brings me, through a celery-soup flavoured segue, to Weight Watchers.

I've never been good at moderation, and I think the transition from the UK to the US and from single to married life has left it's mark on me. I'm more...cuddly than before. I cringe at a higher percentage of photographs of myself. Now it's not a desperation thing; I don't get out of breath climbing stairs, I can do increasingly large numbers of laps of the running track when Krissa and I go out jogging. I am okay. But I'm not good.

This was my rationale before I went along to the first meeting on Tuesday, where they weighed us both, and all of a sudden I was gripped with the surprise of just how un-okay I am.
I've got a big frame, so I take all this BMI (Body Mass Index) business with a pinch of salt, because people of the same height do not all have the same healthy weight. It's just a guideline. Sure. So I have a margin of error. But not that much.

So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that, despite being considerably taller than the man himself, I was only a few pounds off weighing the same as Homer Simpson at the beginning of the episode where he attempts to gain enough weight to be classified as disabled. That's a hell of a lot of Stuart to lose to get to what the WW Krew would call 'a healthy weight'.

I got two silver sticky stars for turning up on Tuesday. And there was a lot of applause. And talk of the inconsiderateness of Disney toward dieters.
But over and above the things that made me question my sanity there is the difficulty I had with decided to go along in the first place.

Dieting seems to be a bit of a passive way of dealing with the problem. I took up the Atkins for a month a couple of years ago and lost who knows how much weight (I certainly don't, I just did the thing, I didn't weigh myself) and I've exercised or whatever, but dieting seems an un-masculine approach to a problem. Overweight? Join a gym! Run around a lot!
Weight Watchers? HAHAHAHAHA. (says the little voice in my head who never learns and sticks to its preconceptions regardless of evidence)

But it's about learning moderation. It's about learning to eat properly, above and beyond what you THINK you should do but never do, it's about having the reference, the information, the regime and, should you need it, the support of little shiny stickers and the applause of other people.
We'll see how it goes.

I'm sure with a little research you could find out how much Homer Simpson weighs, but I don't want to lay out the truth in plain sight, so I'll say this; my starting weight is H-4 (Homer minus 4) and we'll be moving away from that.

Update: Well, okay, I was wrong. Ignore everything to do with Homer Simpson. I weigh more than him.

Some More Vaganza

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Juice and goss and stories from the first night at Weight Watchers tomorrow, but for now, if you haven't already got one, there are Gmail accounts going begging...literally.

Please, please, please take these sodding gmail accounts off my hands.

I have 50 of the bloody things. They're free, you get 1GB of online storage (which you can use as just that if you so wish, I mean, come on) and they're pretty and good and stylish and haute couture and email rejiggered for the new millennium and I've got far too many of them. They are weighing me down in my daily surfing; I awake in cold sweats at night thinking of the purposeless, loose and empty 50GB of Google Server simply waiting, waiting, waiting.

I mean, think of the children.
Without a Gmail account.
Ask them if they want one.
Do you?

I mean, if you've already got one, you've got 50 accounts to give away too.
Feel free to leave a comment if you too, have been stricken with 50 invites to feed and need a platform to appeal for help.

Please.
If you can.
Take an invite.
Commentees get invited whether they like it or not.

The End Of My Tether...

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stuartbridgett79: le sigh.

stuartbridgett79: so much of le sigh.

Biscuit: Sigh?

stuartbridgett79: I have gone to using google as a jobseeking tool

Biscuit: I need a weekend job.

stuartbridgett79: and after various attempts at changing around 'engineering vacancies NY'

stuartbridgett79: I went to google and typed 'give me an engineering job now you bastards' and hit "i'm feeling lucky"

stuartbridgett79: Try it.

Biscuit: I would start by not using the term "vacancies"

stuartbridgett79: no, okay, it was different stuff. But I wanted to get across to you what I've been doing.

stuartbridgett79: Have you tried it yet?

Biscuit: WAIT A MINUTE

Biscuit: why does that

Biscuit: HEY!!

stuartbridgett79: Yes.

Biscuit: What did you DO?

stuartbridgett79: Hence: le sigh.

stuartbridgett79: That's quite something, huh?

Biscuit: How did you DO THAT?

stuartbridgett79: Absolutely positively no idea.

Biscuit: that's like

Biscuit: IMPOSSIBLE.

stuartbridgett79: I know.

Applebound

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An appeal from a friend and old Warwick Alumn:

New York, New York

We are going to New York in April. We have no idea where to stay!

If you have any advice on hotels and/or good locations then please let me know. We are after a double room for 5 nights for less than 600. Obviously the cheaper the better, but we are stupid, extravagant bastards, and want to stay somewhere swanky.

Many thanks!

Now my knowledge of New York doesn't really extend to hotels...can anyone give Tal and James some pointers?

Noise Annoys

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New York recieved about seven inches of snow last night. As I type I look out of the office window at myriad tree branches picked out in stark white, intricate webs of ice crystals, adorning nature's beauty. And there is a snowblower somewhere which is doing my nut.

If you live in the middle of the desert, or in a country where the snow doesn't arrive in sufficient quantities to warrant snowblowers being marketed at you, allow me to quickly illustrate.

It's like a lawnmower with a petrol engine, and what it does is as you push it along, it WHOOOOSHES the snow up off the ground, swirls it around inside itself a couple of times and then BOOOSH it blows it off and away out of a little chimney which the user can direct. Very handy for clearing paths through snow without all that backbreaking shovelling and/or employing local waifs and strays.

For the last two hours there has been a snowblower a-goin' somewhere nearby, out the back of the run of buildings which makes up our street. TWO HOURS. I'm sitting here attempting to come up with a job application cover letter which doesn't use the cliched, 'I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience' and someone is blowing snow for all their worth.
That's not the thing though. The noise isn't so bad, but what is really mullering my yoghurt is trying to figure out why someone has been blowing snow in a back garden measuring about ten feet by ten feet for two hours.

Are they simple? Have they trained the little chimney to blow snow to the other side of their yard, meaning they go round and round and round in circles, blowing snow which has already been blown, over and over again? What in hell's name is going on?

The snow is now coming down in a Hollywood style - fat flakes langourously falling with big gaps between them.

But our errant snowblowee brings me onto something else. I've been in the apartment a lot over the past few months, and I'm getting very curious to see what the other apartments in our building look like by now, because of the hammering.

The Hammering (soon to be a book by Stephen King) has been going on ever since I moved in, and in such staggering amounts that I now think that the apartment below ours has walls which are armour plated...or one picture which has been re-hung so many times that the walls look like they have been attacked by a squadron of kamikaze woodpeckers. There can be no other explanation.

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