Sign this allergen declaration before you can eat here

I have had quite a few issues eating out in the past with my allergies. But even I was shocked when visiting Leaf in Manchester for a second degree dinner.

As usual I told the server about my allergies, she stopped me and said the manager needs to take my order separately. I got use to this, so didn’t think much of it. When the manager came, she was carrying a allergy sheet for the food which is what I was expecting. But she also had a form which I needed to sign!

Yes if I wanted to eat at Leaf, I would have to sign the document to free Leaf of any responsibility of any allergic reaction I might have! The manager explained multiple times certain foods are from external suppliers and can’t be guaranteed as nut free; regardless of me saying trace is fine; she wasn’t going let me order unless I signed.

As usual, I actually read the declaration/wavier, which at the time seemed more like a disclaimer. But it was written to resolve Leaf of any responsibility in the unlikely chance I have an allergic reaction, end up in hospital or even die. As I signed it half knowing this can not be enforceable and part of me loving to see this as a court case in the UK. I signed it with a Red pen, which I remember being a issue with contracts.

I ordered the Chorizo in Redwine sauce as a starter which based on the allergy menu contained nuts (It was just Chorizo, Redwine some herbs!). My main was basically steak with veg and little potatoes with no potential nuts. The cheese cake also no nuts or coconut. So I was fine! No allergic reaction.

Next day I spoke to a few people. Some said I was being discriminated against and wondered if they would get people who are physically disabled to sign something just encase? Vivid lounge staff pretty much all laughed about the whole thing, suggesting they might do the same just for me alone.

Regardless I thought it was all ridiculous and I wondered if this was worst or better than being turned away from Home Sweet Home ages ago?  I understand there are people with far worst allergies but signing something to cover the restaurant’s ass is just shocking! It really didn’t fill me with any trust of what is going on back in the kitchen, to be honest. As long as you are told especially by the manager, that should be enough. I get accidents do happen but this feels so wrong and left a horrible taste in my mouth (pun intended!).

I was willing to get up and leave but as everyone had ordered, but its unlikely I’ll be back…

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About Anything On A First Date

Jack's Rose Cocktail

Its not usually I agree with these things but Elite daily has a piece title: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About Anything On A First Date.

…when it comes to first date conversations, most people stick to the basics: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What shows/music/whatever are you currently obsessed with?

Now technically, there isn’t anything wrong with these safe subjects, but TBH they’re kind of boring and definitely won’t reveal anything meaningful about the person sitting across the table from you.

And while a cute outfit and a friendly demeanor are first date requirements, sticking to this safe, vanilla small talk shouldn’t be.

That’s right: We’re here to tell you that NO subject should be off limits. In fact, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from years (and years and years) of research, it’s that cutting to the chase from the start is the best way to figure out if someone’s a good match for you.

  • Small talk is forgettable.
  • You probably already, um, researched the person anyway.
  • You won’t waste your time.
  • Your date’s reaction will tell you a lot about who s/he is.
  • Scaring someone away might be the best thing that ever happened.

To be fair I adopted this approach a long time ago in speed dating, first dates and life generally. Small talk is forgettable, boring and tells you nothing. Sometimes I get really odd looks and responses; but than also tells you plenty. Of course this is all contextual but if you can quickly get down to a deeper level, then its all good for everyone.

I do generally think if you’re not in a deep meaningful conversations then its highly likely there won’t be another date and most likely not right for me. I once put on my OKCupid dating profile, something about being deep and frankly Its something I’ve removed as it sounds wanky but its very true.

OkCupid without the explicit data?

I was reading through OKCupid’s interview on the Wall Street Journal. I highlighted a few things which got me thinking about whats wrong with OKCupid.

WSJ: Could you explain the “substance over selfies” focus?

MR. SEIDMAN: If you look at what we have seen in online dating in the past four to five years, there is a huge increase in speeding up: Let’s get people to go faster, let’s get people to spend more consideration over booking a restaurant on OpenTable tonight than choosing someone to connect with on an app.

We said, we are actually going to double down on what is fundamentally true for a large part of people dating, which is, I want to meet someone based on who they are, not what they look like. One of the ways we do that is during sign-up we take you through a minimum of 15 iconic OkCupid questions. These go through religion, culture, sex and gets to what you are like.

Our questions emulate what is happening in the real world, like a conversation you would have at a bar or dinner party.

There are a lot of people who have strongly held beliefs but no overlap, and we don’t want to waste their time. We push people into not just answering these questions but creating profiles that are more than just their photos. The real issue now is, how do we make that easy and enjoyable on a mobile phone?

We recently renamed our swiping product from Quickmatch to Doubletake, because we realized the name doesn’t support the values of our community: We don’t want people to be quick, we want them to be slow. We look at it proactively through the lens of product and marketing, so when you get to OkCupid it’s clear it’s the place for you.

Nice in theory but as I pointed out a few times, the days of when people would spend time filling in the questions; has kind of gone. Even OkCupid doesn’t really put any emphases on the questions. Instead they seem to be pushing for more implicit data collection. Which leads you to a place where swiping left and right works in favor of both parties I guess? Although I obviously have a total distaste for this mechanism.]

Ok Cupid's top bar in mid 2017

The mobile app and website are more similar but its interesting to see the questions pushed to the far right of the page now. Even the top menu now is just Browse Matches, Double Take and Purchase A-list.

So my take away thought especially with the recent changes around visitors is frankly this whole thing about creating a community around online dating, is just PR nonsense.

Tips for dealing with our unhealthy smartphone addiction?

Smartphones and shadows.

Originally I wanted to write a massive blog connecting the last blog about Thintelligenece, Tristan harris‘ essay reply, what I picked out of the quantified self, my thoughts following visiting Tokyo, Mark Manson’s smartphones are the new cigarettes and reading Alone together.

I found this from dating site review ages ago and it seems apt…

“The problem doesn’t lie with dating apps per se – technology in general is changing how we behave and interact. People are spending more time updating and commenting on their social media accounts than they are having actual conversations or meeting up with people IRL. Take a look at any bar or restaurant, and inevitably you see a group of people at a table, and none of them are talking to each other – they are staring at their phones.”

Theres a common theme that maybe our use of smartphones might not be all its cracked up to be? However I don’t really need to tell you this right? The amount of times I have walked into a lift in the last week, looked around to see glowing faces and no eye contact at all is quite scary as purely a thought experiment. I’m currently at about 90% looking at screens – if you were wondering.

Its quite easy to be slightly concerned, but I’m wondering why my phone usage pick up during the first day of the Quantified Self 2017 conference in comparison? Could there be something in the way I use my phone?

Quantified Self 2017
People put up their hands for how long they were on their phones during the conference

Not only this Aaron Parecki gave a talk about choices when choosing quantified self equipment or packages (as Justin said being things which are a mix of hardware, software and service). There seems to be some tips emerging between the 3 different sources.

So I thought I’d share them together.

smartphones looks

    • Lower the brightness, use some-kind of twilight mode or turn your screen to greyscale.
      As Tristan Harris says apps and operating systems are made to keep you looking and interacting for longer. They have this down to a science now. Theres also tons of research indicating that the blue light from LCD screens messes with your sleep routine, heck I swear by redshift and twilight. The greyscale is interesting too.
    • Turn off all sound and light alerts (vibrate will do)
      I’m totally shocked when I hear someones ring tone to be honest, I mean really? I turned off all notification lights from day one, so surprised when I see a flashing or strobing light on other peoples phones.
    • Turn off that stupid mode when it wakes up your phone screen to show you notifications.
      I always thought it was a iphone thing but seen it on Androids too. I honestly think so stupid as its battery zapping and ever so distracting. This also totally kills the doze mode on Android! Plus think about it, it lasts about 5 secs and if someone sends you a detailed message, you only get half the message forcing you to pick up the phone.

My Shadow

      • Put different apps on another phone, tablet device or smartwatch.
        My tablet is wifi only and has a very different set of apps and use. I also limit what kind of alerts I get on my pebble smartwatch, which also means I don’t need to look at my phone for the time. I had no idea the ipad doesn’t include a calculator? Each device is different and has a different purpose, there are apps which I wouldn’t dare put on my phone but I’d consider it for my tablet.
      • Don’t feel guilty for not picking up the phone!
        The guilt people put themselves under is out of control, no one will notice if you reply 5, 15, 30, 60mins later. You don’t need to reply straight away, unless you are expecting something or trying to get hold of someone.

    It Begins with Bonjour

    • Have some self-control
      Don’t use your phone as a (anti) social crutch; barrier between the physical world and you. I get the loneliness is a difficult and maybe social settings make you feel uncomfortable? But force yourself to be present in the moment, you might be missing an opportunity.
    • Don’t put your phone on the table
      I get it, Doze only works when your phone is flat and left alone for a while but since Android N it now works in your pocket. I use to do this all the time to save battery, at the end of a long conversation it would actually be stone cold! If you must, keep your screen facing down and don’t get tempted to unlock it (You should of course not have that stupid wake the screen up mode too!).
      smartphone
    • Think about your time as important
      It sounds silly when you think about it but our attention is finite and should be treated as important. When thinking about ourselves, we tend to put ourselves down, saying I’m no one special but to be frank we are important! Everyone of us are capable of such incredible things but not if we are all looking at our phones.
    • Think about what you are doing with your phone
      Are you simply filling time or doing something constructive with your time? No judgment about what you class as constructive but adding a like to a friends profile picture can wait. I recently tried to get a friend to do more constructive things with his phone but the continuous (endless/bottomless) stream of social notifications was too great it seems.
    • Stop with the selfies!
      Ok this is just my thing but if you can’t turn to a stranger and ask to take a picture, then something is seriously wrong! Live a little maybe that conversation might turn into something you wasn’t expected. Think about those Snapchat filters, encouraging you to act a certain way... Its not subtle but people get caught up in it and don’t think, and this is what the app maker wants from you. I’ll remind you of the fruit machine flow state which Natasha Dow Schüll, talks about in her book addicted by design.
      Smartphone
    • Stop with phone one upmanship
      I have seen too many times when someone shows something, then someone else pulls out their phone in response. Before long everyone has their phone out looking to out do each other. Theres even silence while everyone looks and pops up for social proof every once in a while.
  • Theres many more
  • …but that will do for now. If you can think of more, add a comment and I’ll likely do a updated blog with more soon.

Shenanigans in Amsterdam

I tweeted this because this will never be forgotten by those involved, a night of Shenanigans

dsc_0237
Simon suggests burgers for dinner at Burger Zaken, Amsterdam. The Wagu burger wasn’t too bad at all.

I was hunting for cocktails and google maps suggests going to a place called Prik. Where we finally connect the dots realising its actually a gay bar (seems so obvious now, but alas I didn’t connect undressed with undressing so go figure). Just at the point when we seen a heavily pregnant cat order drinks at the bar (I kid you not) and join it with a cocktail of our own.

dsc_0243

Moving onwards we tried Tales & Spirits, but it was fully booked and they suggest a new place which just opened that evening. Blue Boy. It use to be a gay cinema, we were told but from that night its a trendy restaurant with very good cocktails. So we went with the recommendation. The night seemed to be full of animals from pregnant cats in Prik to the massive stone dog watching over us while we drank.

dsc_0247
It was Jasmine who first went to the toilet and came back to the table saying it was a little weird having unisex toilets. I said that’s just Amsterdam. Then when I went to the toilet, I followed the corridor to the toilets.

Then I made the mistake of using the wrong sexes toilets as the place was so new they forgot to add signs to the doors. For me it wasn’t till the woman also washing her hands asked if she was wrong? I looked confused and she repeated it; getting what she was talking about. I said I think its communal toilets no biggie. But it wasn’t till I left and had the shock from another woman entering, that I realised I was actually wrong. Her partner walked out another door (also with no sign) and I saw the urinals. Embarrassing yes but everybody laughed it off – thankfully!

Back to Niewmarkt and Cafe Cuba for one more before realising the last metro was only 10mins time. Once back at the hotel, I decided to make the most of that super warm night in mid September by doing a mix on the pacemaker outside the hotel entrance.

My first LED diabolo in darkness test

Since the Firejam 2 weeks ago, I’ve been getting more into the diabolo with lights or even fire thing. Today I hit the garden to try out the LED kit on my old diabolo. The results are not bad, but it’s not quite what I was after. I’d like to see more blur with the diabolo moves really but I guess I can do this in post if I like.

Added some music and uploaded to youtube. Of course Youtube doesn’t like the music and theres a flickr version too incase youtube removes it from different regions.

I shot the whole thing on my Nikon D3200 using the standard kit lens, manual settings and gorillapod. Next time I’ll mess with the settings and try it during dusk, because then at least you can see what I’m up to and I can see what the heck I’m actually doing!

Fun times ahead!

Especially as I’m starting to crack the Vertex!

Fire, night and a diabolo, what could go wrong?

Jamming with a LED diabolo - Photo credit Ian Wilson
Thanks to Ian Wilson for capturing this one of me

On Saturday night I finally got myself down to the castlefield arena to join the firejam. I’ve had a diabolo LED kit for a while but never actually installed it to any of my diabolos before. After much work, I got half of one added to my Sundia diabolo and joined the mainly fire poi people down at the arena.

Sundia diabolo with half a LED kit

I was amazed at the fire especially with a DSLR camera, I mean the LED is impressive but fire just looks incredible.

Firejamming

My pictures don’t do it justice but I’m seriously considering getting a fire diabolo. I did try it once and of course it requires special strings and a special diabolo but I got a feeling it would be so much fun. Looking forward to the next Firejam already…

St Anne’s square, Manchester remembers

Manchester remembers Monday 22nd May

I spent some time in St Anne’s Square to pay my respects and remember what happened almost a week ago. I had thought about waiting till tomorrow but I imagine tomorrow evening/night will be a critical time for loved ones and those much closer physically/mentally.

We stand together, manchester

Of course they have the support of Manchester and the whole world, but the grieving process takes time and can’t be rushed, even with the best will in the world. No one will be forgotten, same as 10 years since 7/7 myself like many others still remember.

Manchester Arena bombing 22 May 2017

Charity Speed Dating – Monday 12th June

Let's Talk About Sex

A friend from work is arranging a charity speed dating event in Manchester… yes, charity & speed dating… if you are single, whats not to like about this?

Tickets are only £14 for a night too. Oliva is after 15 men and 15 women (its a straight event) and good on TV21 for giving Oliva their room free for the night too.

Join the event and you will spend the evening meeting and talking to up to 15 different people three minutes at a time. All the proceedings go to ICS and the venue is booked for the whole evening so once the main event is over there is nothing to stop you from getting to know that special someone a little bit more.

 

The Manchester Arena bombing – Mon 22nd May

Manchester before the arena bomb
Only a few hours before darkness and the Manchester Arena bombing

Its a difficult time being in Manchester at the moment. This time yesterday (Monday 22nd May) there were sirens, helicopters and a general unknowing. I had not heard the bomb blast, as I live quite far away (25mins walk) but can see the area of Victoria from my windows. I was also catching up with Supergirl, so maybe the bang was mixed in with the sound from that.

It was my wonder why there was so many sirens which led me to look at Facebook and Twitter. Before long it was clear something terrible had happened in the Victoria area. Then it became clear it was the Manchester Arena, somewhere I had visited on Thursday (Manchester after hours) & Friday (Silicon drinkabout) last week.

It was clear there were a lot of people and children shocked, hurt and at a lost to what they had seen and experienced. A lot had no way of getting home and just needed to be reconnected with loved ones. There were people posting they had spare rooms, and I really considered doing the same but decided I should go and help out if possible.  However, Greater Manchester police’s twitter account told us in no certain terms, stay away and stay safe, this was now a live crime scene.

I stayed up till about 2am, as unconfirmed reports flew in from social media and some news outlets. Although I wanted to stay up longer, I decided this would not be a good idea. So I sent my parents a message saying when they wake up don’t worry I’m fine (which they never saw till they contacted me this morning). Posted a few tweets and went to bed.

I was in London during the 7/7 bombings and experienced similar emotions of not knowing and listening out for more/any-news. It was a terrible time and I think the watching and waiting made things far worst. Its too easy to watch the news and be in a state of panic each time you see the breaking news banner. Or read something someones posted.

This is why the next day, although keeping a slight eye on what happened, I went to work and tried to carry on with my life as best I could. I know Manchester is no stranger to bombings but I felt it was ever so important to try and keep some normality, as thats exactly what the bomber was trying to disrupt.

Of course my heart goes out to everyone involved or loved ones who are still not found like friend Dan Hett.

But you really see the dark side of organisations, politics and religon in these moments.

But of course these out weighted by moments of absolute joy and delight by a factor of 10.

I believe Manchester, like London, like Paris, like many others… won’t let these acts take over our way of life and I’m very happy to be part of a city who come together when it matters the most.

I have hope people missing will be found, hopefully alive and well. We will not fall down the path

My Estonian e-residency has arrived

estonian e-residency conformation

A while ago I was in Tallinn and applied for the Estonian e-Residency as a result of what I heard and after deciding their was enough upsides to the residency.

Well Wednesday I got a email from the Estonian Embassy in London…

This is to confirm your digital identity card has arrived to the Estonian Embassy in London and is ready to be collected.

Excellent news… I hope to be picking it up sometime in June.

A taste of what its like dating in 2017

Aziz on a first date

Sucked into a popular dating app, Dev winds up on a string of awkward, fun and disorienting dates with very different women.

Married friends tend to imagine dating now must be so exciting. Ok it is but theres lots of roller coaster moments of up and down (not that kind!); but I was laughing and remembering some of my dates while watching Aziz on a series of first dates.

Its Season 2 episode 4 of Master of None

Without spoilers; The woman checking out other potential matches for dates while on a date had me pointing at the screen shouting…

“That happened me!”

I’m sure most of the dating singletons would find at least one thing to point at and say the same thing.

Imagine if burgers were more like sushi

Taken from lernertandsander.com/cubes

To be honest I hate burgers, they feel so lazy and the trend of burger everywhere is out of control. Ok I don’t hate them but I really have gotten tired of them along time ago.

If it was wired’s little section of wired, tired and expired; burgers would be in the expired time for the local recycling/composite heap. I frankly don’t care how big or pink the burgers are, how many layers of mustard you have or what type of buns you use. Its frankly incremental nonsense and needs to go away.

Wheres the creativity?

While slightly ranting about them at work, Roberto suggested Ian’s Angry burgers and then Jimmy suggested cube burgers to fit with Cubicgarden.

This is when I thought why can’t burgers be more like Sushi? (Don’t you dare mention those miniburgers!)

Sushi

Small cleverly crafted pieces which combined make a full meal. So instead of slapping stuff into a burger bun and hoping it will stay intact, you can make super tastie mini pieces. It could be that you make them like lego or the little piece itself is the burger as such (like Sushi)

Yes its not a burger but heck its about time we moved on and frankly burgers are not going away, so lets try something different…

Welcome to Ian’s Square burger bites… maybe?

I freely admit I always wanted to eat sushi but can’t due to allergies, so maybe this is whats missing. The care and attention of sushi but with something simple like burgers?

Changing perceptions of dyslexia #Madebydyslexia

#madebydylexia
Jody shared with me news of Richard Branson’s new charity Made by Dyslexia

Sir Richard Branson launched a new charity, Made by Dyslexia, at the world’s first “dyslexic sperm bank” this week, a concept created and produced by Y&R London. Made by Dyslexia is a global charity led by successful and famous dyslexics, and its purpose is to help the world properly understand and support dyslexia.

Absolutely!

Made by Dyslexia will campaign to change perceptions, so that dyslexia is seen as a different way of thinking rather than as a disadvantage. Working with experts and successful dyslexics, it will develop campaigns, tools and tests to explain dyslexic thinking. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, artists, and tech professionals are dyslexic, including Sir Richard Branson, demonstrating that dyslexic people can achieve great things when they focus on their strengths and get the right support in school.

Indeed… Recent reading of the dyslexic advantage further confirmed to me what I already knew. Dyslexia in the right environment can be a huge advantage.

The “sperm bank”, while not accepting actual donors, was chosen as a theme and setting for the launch because some sperm banks have not let dyslexics donate until very recently, and have even described dyslexia as a “neurological disease”, highlighting how far peoples’ understanding of dyslexia still needs to change. One in ten people are dyslexic, accounting for more than 6.5 million people in the United Kingdom, so this is a major issue.

Yes that sperm bank which was deeply depressing news and I already wrote about.

So great to poke fun at the stupidity of that sperm bank story.

2nd May 2016, the day when I undressed on TV

are you a good kisser - undressed

It feels so weird that a year ago (Monday 2nd May) I took part in TLC’s Undressed programme. Family and friends said I was crazy; heck even I started to think I might be a little crazy stepping too far out my comfort zone.

Most people haven’t seen the show but its episode 9 of series 1 if you subscribe to TLC UK. I did try and do some showings at my house but also did a showing at BarCampManchester7 which went alot better than I’d thought it would.

The whole experience was certainly unique and I did end up writing most of it on the train home to Manchester right before the next day catching a 6am flight to Berlin for Mozretreat (this year it was earlier and in Tallinn). Me and Jess also recorded a podcast which is worth listening to. I still think my undressed misunderstanding is undertandable?

Now my contract with TLC is up (well it was up the moment it was on TV really), I am seriously thinking about revisiting the idea of First Dates as a background dater. Originally I was going ahead with it then Undressed got in touch and the contract (see I read those contracts) didn’t allow you to be on another dating show (although I did declare the Horizon dating experiment too but they didn’t seem to care).

Its not about being on TV as I keep saying… Its those experiences which take you out of your comfort zone. Its seems consistenly every year there is at least something. 2015: Japan, Listening Project & Horizon, 2016: Undressed, 2017: Ireland in a Camper Van, 2018: who know?

Watch this space!