On trying Oatmilk…

Dad with milk
I’m no dad but interested in giving milk the push

Independent of the advertising push to stop dad from buying milk (I think its only just started), During the covid19 lockdown’s, I have been trying things which could make me ill.

This time I thought it was time to try the alternatives to milk. Rice, Oat and Hemp milk? (obviously not Coconut, Pea, Cashew, Soya, Almond, etc) Now to be honest I don’t drink much milk, and when I do it use to be skimmed milk or semi-skinned with a bit of water. I also only add milk to cereal (I tried using water and orange juice).

I don’t really like milk, ever since we had to drink it at primary/junior school. Remember tasting whole milk and feeling so sick. Anyway I added Oatly to my monthly online shop and today tried it with some Wetabix minis.

The colour was a little off white but thats fine, when I actually tasted it. I was very surprised how sweet it was. The important part is there was no gag from the milk taste, I didn’t feel ill like I sometimes feel with milk but I also wouldn’t want to drink too much of it.

In short I would drink it any more than I drink Milk right now. However I will switch to Oat if Rice or Hemp milk are not any better. Be great if I could get a half a litre instead of a litre.  I would also give it a try in a mocha coffee, as I can imagine that working well. Maybe I could also finally get my Matcha tea latte going at home.

So in short its better than milk but I need to give Rice milk a try too.

Learn the Diabolo during a pandemic?

Glad someone else did a video about learning the Diabolo during the pandemic. Its something I have really enjoyed and look forward to when ever I can.

Here’s my advent calendar of Diabolo tricks for example.


The shared reasons…

  1. The Diabolo is good physical exercise
    Weirdly enough, I’m doing roughly about 3500+ steps while with the Diabolo for 45mins. The big difference is my heart rate, its raised during the Diabolo and thats a good thing.
  2. The diabolo is good mental exercise
    Its a good distraction and being in a state of flow while doing a trick is great. Like others, I’m doing it with headphones on, so able to listen to some of my trance mixes (haven’t done any recently) to get into a zone.
  3. Its the perfect social distancing device
    Especially when learning the vertex, can’t tell you the amount of times I almost lost the Diabolo over the fence or its ended up in a bush. Its part of the reason why I use one for practice and the more expensive one for the camera.
  4. Its not a expensive device, but you can pay a lot for better
    Talking about Diabolos, I have a lot of them. Some going back to when I was in college and a bunch of triple axis bearing Diabolos. Even considered a fire Diabolo. The sticks are also worth a thought. Originally I had quick thick wooden sticks then they got thinner before switching to aluminium and now carbon fibre is my style.
  5. Its fun and rewarding
    The benefits of fun are well known but theres also side effects like amazing hand eye coordination, agility and of course style.

Even if you are not convinced about the diabolo, consider the devil sticks, yoyo, hoops, poi or heck just juggling.

Snowfall rolling into Manchester time-lapse

I knew Snow was coming so I setup my Pixel2 to best capture the snowfall on Saturday 2nd Jan 2021. It was good but I didn’t position the camera behind my black out blinds and so you get a slight reflection and later in the video the light of living room in the sky (I obviously removed this part as it looked weird). I also need to sort out the autofocus next time.

Still a nice timelapse of the clouds rolling in then the snow for a short while.

My new years resolutions for 2021

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask

Its been quite a year and everybody is looking for a better year in 2021.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2021; which follows on from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Live in another country for a short while
    Regardless of the pandemic, I’m still keen to spend a serious amount of time in Europe. I know we just left Europe (don’t get me started) and its now even harder to do what I had planned last year. Regardless I got to try and apply for the Estonian digital nomad visa.
  2. Head further a field with the scooter
    A follow on from the last lot of resolutions, even with Covid19 and Brexit, I’m holding out hope that I can find a way to either the Netherlands or Ireland. I almost went to the Netherlands over the summer but the rules changed meaning I would need to self isolate for 14 days after coming back.
  3. Take better care of my skin.
    face creams

    This is a follow on from last year, my sleep, alertness, etc are great but I for decades have neglected my skin. Since I was young, I would use petroleum jelly on my face and hands. I only really noticed the issue with this while shaving. But I was convinced by my barber to stop doing this and use proper face moisturisers. My family were amazed my skin turned out as well as it did we 30+ years of petroleum jelly. So its time for something new and less harsh?

  4. Step up my gratitudes
    My lovely ex-colleague Nicky told me about a book shes been using, called the 6 minute diary. Last time we talked about my gratitudes. So from new years I’ll give it a go. It will likely the most I have handwritten in a long time. Thanks Nicky again and look forward to seeing what hits the paper.
  5. Host more film nights and dinner parties
    This is a repeat of the last year but even with Covid19, I’m going to put this on the list, as I could do much better. Heck I got enough Chocolate to do a tasting night every month right now.
  6. Spend even more time with the Diabolo
    Diabolo whip
    The pandemic has given me so much time with the Diabolo. Its amazing to see how fast I have improved in the community garden. A while back I wanted to learn the Vertex and now I’m getting confidently doing it but got a long way to go before I start throwing genocide vertex’s. Although I feel I can watch a video on youtube and pick it up within a week or two now. However I still don’t get the infinite suicide, it should be easy but it never works for me.
  7. Send a email out to friends and family once or twice a year
    I’m slightly preparing to spend even less time in Facebook and looking at the alternatives to substack and medium. Most likely I will selfhost it now I’m running yuno host on a raspberry pi4. Either Writefreely or something with Activitypub.
  8. Self host and move to more decentralised/fediverse services.
    Its something I’ve been doing for a while but its time for the big push. As I’m spending more time at home, I got more time to learn and now my main services are running on the NAS. The RaspberryPi is a great platform for self-hosting. While thinking about the previous one, I posted something on Mastodon.
    Someone suggested this Github project and someone suggested Friendica might have what I need.
  9. Find an alternative to the pebble watch
    My Pebble with Sugru

    My friends have been really good to me, giving up their old pebble smartwatches to me. But as I’m now on my last pebble, its time to move over to something else. I enjoyed not having to pull out my phone to read a message and to even reply directly from the watch. But I can’t buy another one now. I had pinned my hope on the hybrid smartwatches but they don’t seem to have the ability to send a reply. Anyway, no more pebble after this one dies.
  10. Listen to a Audiobook every month.
    Another advantage of being at home is the amount of audiobooks I’m listening to. Right now I’m listening to one every week but 12 is a basic target and should be do able with the sheer amount of podcasts I’ve been listening too. This also fits with Audiable’s monthly subscription.
  11. Take a more political & strategic view on the status quo
    George Floyd 7 months later

    There’s been a number of books and podcasts, which have led me to the fact people around me think things are generally ok. Yes with the pandemic, they changed their minds for this year but I hear again and again – “Next year things will go back to how they were and all will be ok.”
    No I’m 99% sure it won’t and frankly how it was, was not good enough. We need to fight harder for a better future for all. Its also clear to me the right has found a formula which is working but its easily broken by taking a active role in our democracy. May this year made this ever so clear to me.
  12. Finish my dating book
    Yes that book is being worked on between myself and Hannah. The latest draft is looking great. Honestly it reads like a real book! I’m now considering writing a epilogue but unfortunately my relationship ended during this year. Meaning a rewrite and rethink how to end it as such.
    There are other considerations like photography/artwork, formats, checking for consistency, where to publish, how to publish, etc, etc. Any thoughts do get in touch (like to avoid Amazon if I can and it makes sense)Here is a tiny sneaky paragraph from a draft chapter (Hannah is such a great writer and editor, you should hire her!)

    …I studied her face to see what her intention was. Maybe it was a spontaneous comment that didn’t really mean anything. Perhaps she was playing to the cameras that surrounded us?

    The longer I looked, the more smug her expression became. She might have been pretty before but that dirty grin said it all. If she was trying to push my buttons she had found them alright. What happened next was not my finest hour.

    Maybe the combination of divorce, Mr Tango and the button pushing had something to do with what happened next. It felt like I was thinking it but it came out.

    Regardless, I do take responsibility for what happened next…

    Bet you are dying to know what happens next right? Hopefully this year you will know.

So that’s the 12 for 2021 (still no real reason why its 12, it just is). Its a tough one because I wanted to include things like visit a new country but I decided its unlikely this coming year. I was also going to add one about getting the Covid19 vaccine/jabs but I just learned one of the ingredients includes pea protein? So it might be a even longer wait for me to get the vaccine.

Have a good new year all!

Timelapses I recently taken

I am privileged to have an amazing view across East Manchester to the Pennines. It is a great view and nothing large has been built in between, obstructing the view. This is part of the reason why I have a small TV and went for the projector route for big screen view.

Recently I had a conversation with my Newcastle friend Oli Wood and we got talking about his timelapses. I mentioned I had entered a timelapse into the life in a day documentary. Oli suggested I should do more, especially because its built directly into the Google Pixels camera.

Since then I’ve been doing some experiments behind my black out blinds so I can use my living room hue lights as usual without it messing with the timelapse. I would say they are pretty good, but I’d like to sort out the autofocus and position it somewhere a bit more towards the Pennines.

I will certainly do one for New Years with a quicker shutter time. Hopefully to pick up some of the great fireworks I usually see during my new years eve parties.

A review of my 2020 resolutions

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask
The new normal, mask, umbrella and coat

2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.

The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.

Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured.  May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.

George Floyd 7 months later
Remembering George floyd on xmas night

So with all that how was my year from the  Quantified Self data  point of view?

  • My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins.  Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
  • This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
  • Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
  • Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Dave and film was Tenet, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 742 hours watching films (61.8hrs a month) and 1221 hours watching TV series (101.8hrs a month) – that is a lot, but understandable with being locked down.

Diabolo whip

Here’s my review of  my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
    Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
  2. Visit another new country
    This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
  3. Make some changes to the flat
    Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
  4. Host film nights at mine
    This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
  5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
    Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
  6. Find the others and connect them
    This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
  7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
    Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
  8. Drink more fizzy water
    This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
  9.  Look after myself better
    I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
  10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
    This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
  11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
    This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
  12. Change my email signature with important information
    Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.

Dec 25: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 25: High and low Vertex Suns
Of course something special for the last day of my Diabolo advent calendar.
I am still getting my head around the vertex but one of the tricks I picked up quickly was the high and low suns.

When I’m going and slowly turning along with the vertex, it looks incredible but its very difficult to maintain the momentum.

Here is another better one I did the other day.

Thats it for the advent calendar, hope you enjoyed a little daily dip into the diabolo world?

Happy holiday where ever you are and what ever you do. Remember to stay safe!

Dec 24: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 24: The Vertex
This is the new dimension in the Diabolo world, the Z dimension.
For the last few years I have added learning the vertex in my new years resolutions.
Its only this year with covid19 and plenty of time in the community garden, I really got to put the time into learning how this quite new trick actually works.
I’m still learning it but imagine all the tricks I have shown over the last 24 days and imagine them operating on the Z dimension! Thats all to come…
Till then I can enjoy finally being able to manage a vertex with a loop or as a open loop stick grind.

Dec 22: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 22: High throw to whip to duicide
This is a combo which really gets people excited.
In single steps it should be straight forward but the high throw makes the diabolo whip very difficult and prone to being missed.
On top of this the momentum of the diabolo instantly makes a whip to duicide swing around very quickly, causing the duicide not to go back up.
Theres a closer up view here .

Dec 21: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 21: Diabolo Genocide
We are getting much closer to the edge of my skill set now.
The suicide can be difficult and the duicide was tricky to learn, but they all pale in compared to the genocide.
While in the suicides and duicides, the diabolo is still realistically on the strong.
In the Genocide, the Diabolo leaves the string and you are left holding one stick. Check out the side view to see it fully.
Its insane and I find it hard to pull off.

Dec 20: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 20: Diabolo stick suicide
One of the key tricks in the Diabolo world is the suicide.
I kinda skipped over it but in short if you let go of a sticks mid trick its a suicide move.

The stick suicide creates a suicide by crossing the sticks to control the speed of the trick. I have seen someone this trick turned into a infinite stick suicide.

Working with my night owl self

Over the last 9 months I changed by work hours from 1000-1800 to 1100-1900. I use to get up out of bed at 0800, giving myself 2 hours to wake up, shower, have  breakfast and get to work on the bike. Generally I would be a sleep about 0100 meaning 6.5-7 hours of sleep.

If you feel like you heard this stuff before, you most likely have, here and here and even here.

Now with the change in work time, I’m sleeping by 0200 and awake just after 1000. Meaning 8 hours of sleep.

I can’t tell you how much better I feel!

Some have asked what if I slept 8 hours but shifted your hours towards the morning?

They misunderstand what it means to be a night owl vs a morning lark. As explained in this business insider. There are big differences.

Staying awake well into the night and having to wake up early for work can be problematic for people who identify as night owls. As the AsapSCIENCE team points out, most societal activities occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., putting night owls at risk of sleep deprivation.

Its not something you can not just simply switch. Even more importantly is the direct effect of the time.

At the very beginning of a workday, the difference between morning and night people can be obvious; morning people seem to be getting everything done, while night owls are slow to get going. But that difference may not last.

One hour after waking, early birds and night owls perform equally well in reaction time tests, AsapSCIENCE reports. Ten hours after waking, however, night owls perform significantly better than morning people in similar tests.

I mentioned to colleagues I was recording and editing podcasts at midnight without too much of a problem. Heck I’m writing this blog at midnight right now.I scheduling blogs, microblogs, emails and texts (before I switched back to Google Messages) has been a great way to going unnoticed. Not that I really need to but people always worry when there is a email sent at 0100.

Simple as this, 8 hours of sleep starting at 0130, for me is better quality sleep than going to bed earlier at 000 and waking up earlier at 0800. I have 5 years of sleep data which also points in the same direction.

I’m a night owl and theres little at this stage which is going to change. The pandemic has been good to me on this front.