What does your circadian rhythm say?

It’s always been clear that sleep is a big deal and more and more research is coming out to show the massive effect sleep can have in our lives. Especially at critical times of our development.

I have been tracking (quantifying) my sleeping solidly for about 3-5 years and its surprising to see the effect of the things like different alcohol drink, cheese, coffee, milk and chocolate. I also been to many events, with the last one being Cafe Sci: Myth and Science of Sleep. I generally track my dreams now, which is quite different from previously when I use to track them with a lot more detail.

Tracking sleep can seem a but of nonsense; I mean leaving your phone on your bed while you sleep or using a wristband device to collect data can seem poor for data collection. However with some calibration and a few months data, it becomes clear through the patterns whats good quality and bad quality sleep; oppose to the length of sleep. The key being the cycles of sleep… Light sleep into REM into deep sleep into light sleep and over again.

Sleep as Android data

Here is me sleeping in a hotel for 5hrs 49mins after drinking cocktails in London during the week of Mozfest. You can see the alcohol puts me into deep sleep quickly but it takes a while for my body to get back into its normal sleep pattern. I also had a done a lot of walking that day.

graph_detail_20171019_1.11

This clearly shows although I had 7hrs 21mins of sleep when I woke up, I felt like crap. To be fair I had red wine, and was on cold meds to get rid of my long lingering cold. Once again I was in a hotel, this time in Sarajevo. No coffee this time.

graph_detail_20171119_1.30

This is from todays sleep, even with a few scoops of ice cream and coffee, I slept extremely well and woke up feeling pretty fresh and ready to take on the world.

I use Sleep as Android with my Pebble watch. I do sync everything to Google Fit, Google Drive and Dropbox to make a personal back up for myself.

Ultimately I would clearly say I have learned so much by looking at the patterns, especially over a longer period of time.

In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of Hacked.io in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

What its like to love someone who’s dyslexic?

couple

I saw this blog about bipolar a while ago and thought it would be interesting to try and do something similar for dyslexic. Partly because most people still think of dyslexia as simply a learning condition, and have no idea of the bigger picture especially when it comes to relationships.

I’m going to start this off by being completely honest; loving someone who’s dyslexic can be easy or hard; like loving anyone. Being dyslexic myself, I am pretty bias and may find some of the things pretty easy and understandable. I actually like dating people with dyslexia to be honest, as things seem to make more rational. So this comes from personal experience rather than fact or research papers. I think there could be a sit-com idea out of this, in the same way there is the big bang theory which focuses on academically intelligent but socially awkward characters.

I also used dyslexic and person with dyslexia through-out this post, don’t expect any consistency from me – sorry!

Basically don’t take any of this to heart! Its meant to be light hearted

First thing, not every dyslexic person are alike, in the book the dyslexic advantage; the writers talk about 4 different strengths which also come with some disadvantages. People with dyslexia tend to have a blend of the 4 MIND strengths.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

As you can imagine these have a impact, but how it affects relationships is still very unknown and up for debate.

Once again… don’t take any of this to heart, think of it as poking a little bit of light hearted fun.

Usually late

Dyslexics tend to be late or have to work harder to be on time. This can seem like laziness or lack of attention when actually this isn’t as such true. As Victoria says.

Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”

Expect lots of excuses and don’t take their lateness as a insult because when you are with them.

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you.

Think of it like a state of flow.

Remember that thing…?

Expect to have conversations about favourite media or books, for which the dyslexic can’t remember the actual title. Usually explaining the plot or key moments will awaken the dyslexic mind to the fact they have read/seen/heard/experienced it before. It can be frustrating to have that conversation again and again but once awoken expect vivid retracing; like where they first read that book or which cinema they first saw the film in.

Mishearing and misreading

Dyslexics tend to have extended hearing (hears things not said or apparent to others – maybe something to do with the mind working over time?); this can cause issues which can lead to miscommunication, confusion and misunderstanding. Not exactly what you need in a relationship really. Exactly the same is true of misreading, especially when rushed. Don’t rush them, if you do expect miscommunication and mistakes.

Focus on the bigger picture

Its clear dyslexics have a grand vision and see all the possibilities. Its not that they don’t care about the details, but rather haven’t considered them yet. Once locked into the details, there is a certain amount of  perfectionism which creeps in but generally details are boring… and for boring people (smile).

They tend to be 3 steps ahead but haven’t considered what step 1 or 2 actually are. They tend to work backwards not forwards. Dyslexics tend to have great intuition, think of everything being loosely connected and I imagine its really annoying but some understanding of this will help greatly.

Remember they are holding back their natural state and creativity to fit in a world where its less respected. Go with their intuition as magical things will happen.

Expect the unexpected

Ask a dyslexic for the plan and they will tell you one thing but ask them again in a few days and it will change. Theres a element of keeping all the options/possibilities open and bouncing around the options at will.

This can be exciting because everyday is new but this can also be exhausting. A lot of dyslexics force themselves to routines but left to their own means would happily change it up in a flash.

Things will be lost

Lots of dyslexics tend to misplace things and lose things quite a bit because they put it in the wrong place. Its common for dyslexics to leave things in the fridge, bathroom or at someone else’s house.

This can be seen as absent mindedness but its usually because their mind is working 4 times the speed of others and the details of where things are just don’t matter as much. I can imagine this is frustrating but you can help by, giving nudges of reminders (not too many however!)

Expect lots of contradictions

Consistency isn’t a dyslexic trait. One day its one thing another day its another thing. You kind of need to get use to it, as its easier if its openly discussed and not simply judged. Dyslexics tend to like playing devils advocate a bit, so watch for that.

The mind is simply sexy

Simple as it says, they really love minds and the term sapiosexual really applies here. I’ve looked at this quite a bit and I think its down to the idea dyslexic people can experience thoughts as reality. Dyslexics also tend to be more curious about things then the average person, making them geeky about many things including the brain and ideas.

Expect lots of meta and deep conversations when you really get to know them.

Passion and emotional intelligence

Dyslexics tend to think in visions instead of language. They describe things with passion, are highly intuitive and insightful (hence the 3 steps ahead). They tend to take in or perceive through all their senses not just what they are reading or seeing.

This means a simple story can turn into something quite a bit more than expected.

Most neurotypical (not my term, but an interesting one) people are captivated when they meet or hear someone with dyslexia talk. They are totally caught up in the passion, which you don’t hear much. This is why the likes of Steve Jobs could cast his magic (Reality distortion field) They have a change the world stance which can be honest and genuine.

Team this up with a level of emotional intelligence and maturity not usually seen in most of the population and you got a one heck of a partner.

Give them space and be flexible

Don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end. I promise!

Serious point…

Saying all this, it really depends if they know and embrace their dyslexia? Many don’t know they have dyslexia and/or actively fight against it causing many other problems like low-self esteem and depression as they fight to be neurotypical.

Its a real shame and really blows me away when I meet people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia but are forced to keep quiet (hide in the wardrobe?) because of the shame they will face. This can be the difference between having a job or not sometimes. So many people I have met, work 4x as hard to make sure no one notices their mistakes, difficulties and natural state.

Was helpling actually helping or just causing hassle?

Alexandra Depledge

I had a cleaner, shes a friend and before her another person who became a friend. However the last cleaner left the city centre, it became clear it wasn’t fair to have her clean once a month when the travel was so painful in Central Manchester.

Some of you maybe thinking or want to ask,

why the heck have you got a cleaner Ian?

Well I do clean the flat but I’m extremely busy, don’t like it and have a level of cleanliness set from my parents (aka close to perfection). To get close to that would require constant cleaning every few days. So thats why I outsource this and happily pay someone else to do a big clean once a month/every 3 weeks-ish. On top of this I do Airbnb and its simply not on to charge how much I do for a semi clean place.

I heard about hassle.com via Alexandra Depledge at Thinking Digital Newcastle. Signed up and got a message saying there was no cleaners in my area (Central Manchester!) anyway about a year later I gave it another try this time with some success.

In my original query, I asked for once every 3 weeks rather than every 2 weeks. At the time the options were weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Hassle support put the request to my cleaner and she accepted it, we were all good – or so I thought.

My cleaner was Portuguese but African decent. She was good but out of 7 scheduled cleans, only cleaned 4 times. 3 were missed because of problems her end. The last time, she didn’t even text me to say she wasn’t coming. (I usually wait in the flat then leave them in there while I go get breakfast or brunch). Just nothing! I enquired what happened through the helpling dashboard (when I started using it, it was hassle.com but somewhere along the line changed to helpling.co.uk). But in the end had to speak to help support.

After a few days they told me, my cleaner was no longer available and I would need to get another one. But the kicker was the information that I hadn’t hit the minimal number of cleans and my deposit wouldn’t be returned!

Firstly I would like to apologise for any confusion caused here – When you make a regular booking with Helpling, you agree to commit to bookings with a Helpling cleaner for a minimum of 3 months, this counts for a minimum of 10 cleans for weekly bookings and five cleans for fortnightly bookings, as outlined in our terms and conditions. (https://www.helpling.co.uk/terms). If you are unhappy with the cleaner that you have been matched with, we will be happy to assist with finding a more suitable replacement at No extra fee. However if you choose not to complete the minimum number of cleans required, we reserve the right to charge the full value of the remaining bookings to your registered credit or debit card (up to a maximum value of £60).

Of course I was pretty peed off about this and told them exactly what I thought. They said if I get another helpling cleaner, it would be returned. So I tried. I really did try!

Short story is I did this 3 times (trying once a month and once every 2 weeks). I even had cleaning agreed and secured by 2 different cleaners but everytime on the day or day before they cancelled or gave an excuse why they couldn’t come and clean.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with S*** ******** have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with J************* have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with K********* have been cancelled.

This of course meant I changed my plans to stay in each time for no reason.

My last email reads…

SEP 30, 2017  |  03:03PM UTC
U******:

Hi Ian,

Hope you are well.

I just wanted to get in touch with you in regards to your request for a cleaner from Helpling.

We have been in touch with all cleaners in the area, but unfortunately, nobody has accepted. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Please let us know when you are available for a cleaner to come and I will be happy to help find a great cleaner!

Looking forward to your response.

After the 3rd time I have given up but want my deposit back again!

I’m seriously wondering if Helpling were/are actually helping because it seems my experience was strangely problematic for a simple idea of a cleaner in central Manchester?

My honest thoughts is in the buy out of hassle, something changed?

Marmite, I hate it! Actually I ******* hate it!

Marmite

It was brought to my attention that I may have never tried Marmite (I don’t remember it or I might have blocked it out). I know I have tried Bovril but maybe not Marmite or Vegemite.

So because of this, and my thoughts about stepping one step outside your comfort zone. I spent the money buying a jar and a friend convinced me to take a bite and try it.

Marmite

I did and the results are in the bin. I also had to wash my mouth out with water, drink steaming hot black tea, eat a bunch of pineapple slices, then brush my teeth and scrub my tongue.

Marmite I hate it!

Don’t worry Marmite fans, my friend got a free jar for her collection. The rest of my toast went in the bin

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