Circling the Isle of man without touching it

Common travel area by scooter map
About 600 miles of traveling

I mentioned traveling the common travel area as a holiday and I decided it needed to happen. Especially since the weather is actually going to be pretty good throughout the whole holiday (even in Northern Ireland)

I decided to do the loop in an anti-clockwise way because I wanted to visit Northern Ireland when the weather was at its best.

My Honda silverwing ready to go

So why…?

  1. Its right at that place where I’m slightly scared and excited at the same time. Its been a while
  2. I get to visit a new country
  3. I get to drive in Europe at long last
  4. I do it all without flying, although I do wonder if the scooter’s overall carbon footprint is so great or not

Good enough reasons for a holiday  I think

Maybe I’ll one day actually ride the scooter around the Isle of Man in my own TT

A Common question about the Covid19 vaccines

There is a lot of talk about the UK hitting peak vaccine take up. This seems to be even worst in the states with incentives offered to get people vaccinated.

When talking to people I know who refuse to get vaccinated, I try and get into the grit of it. Usually I wonder if the fear of needles is actually the problem, as discussed previously.

But one question which comes up over and over again. Questions over the speed of the Covid19 vaccine and has it been properly tested?

This one always comes up and I describe to people what happened with mRNA. (I’m going to leave out the question of who exactly is credited with being the creator/investor/scientist/etc of mRNA – Although I always credited Katalin Karik).

In short the Messenger RNA method and Adenovirus was developed many years before, the scientists worked very hard on this new method but couldn’t get funding for the research because funder couldn’t see the point. I mean SARS, MERS, etc had vaccines, so the funders didn’t really see the point in funding this experimental method.

Of course this all changed when the Covid19 pandemic started. All that previous research work massively helped accelerate a usually very long process (along with other changes)

These will have a massive effect on future pandemics (you didn’t think this was the last one did you? Oh you are so cute!)

Traveling the common travel area by scooter?

Common travel area by scooter map
About 600 miles of traveling

Originally I booked a holiday in Portugal as a personal incentive for having the Covid19 vaccine. However during Euro 2021, Portugal was moved from the Green countries to the Amber countries. Although double jabbed, I made a call once I finally understood what I would need to do in regards to tests and finally cancelled the trip (the incentive worked, I could cancel most of it and I am generally trying to fly less).

However I still have the time off and started thinking what I could do with the time which is different from my usual days?

This is when I thought, I have never been to Northern Ireland and wanted to visit the giants causeway. While looking around at ferry’s trying to avoid going into Ireland I found out there is no tests to enter Ireland/Europe as its now part of the common travel area.

Ireland, the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

You do not need to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine on arrival in England if you are travelling within the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, (the Common Travel Area), and you have not been outside of the Common Travel Area in the previous 10 days.

I’ve been thinking what if I travel from Manchester, England to Hollyhead, North Wales, get the ferry across to Dublin, Ireland. Travel up to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Then get a ferry across to Cairnryan, Scotland then travel back to Manchester, England! One massive loop. Going to all of the United Kingdom and a part of Europe on my scooter?

My Honda silverwing ready to go

This would knock the long running new years resolution to drive in Europe and also kinda visit a new country.

Its also going to be social distanced if I’m riding my scooter most of the time. Perfect pandemic holiday eh?

Its about 600 miles of travel and two ferries crossings but I think with good weather its possible with a few stops in hotels and with friends.

1 in 10 could be Needlephobia?

Warning the video above shows injections/needles!

I have written about my journey having 2 shots/jabs of the Covid19 vaccine as someone with huge needlephobia. There has been a drop off with people taking up the vaccine (at least in the UK and America) so called vaccination hesitancy.

There has been many suggestions what it could be, although I’m pretty sure the amount of people scared of needles is much bigger than once thought. If the study saying 1 out of 10 is right thats pretty staggering, and could be the  real reason why some are so hesitant? They may not admit it to themselves even?

Its too hot to work in my flat

I have said my piece about Islington Wharf multiple times including recently in a piece for the Sunday Times (!).

I usually disappear to a coffee shop in Manchester, but I didn’t want to risk going out on Freedom day (if I could say it with a super ironic voice I would). Especially just a head of my 2nd Covid19 vaccine. I know so many people are so looking forward to not wearing a mask, social distancing, etc but I’m still carrying my mask and using it when going into places or walking around Islington Wharf.

Interestingly, I found my mask so much more breathable in the heat than the surgical mask I had to wear when getting the 2nd jab. Once again I had the power of music (Binary Finary’s 1998 this time) and Anbesol to thank for a good experience.

Media you may have missed in the first half of 2021

Parallel film, woman looks into mirror repeated into infinity

A few times a year I mention some films and shows you may have missed. The list came pretty useful during the Covid19 pandemic, when friends said there was little on. As usual I’m looking at the stuff which gets missed in the mass media.

Movies

Together

Together
I mentioned liking locked down a while ago, this is the BBC equivalent with less nonsense at the end. Its good and worth watching.

Wrath of man
This came out of nowhere but I found it a good watch. Not the best of Guy Richie but its a good heist and good to see Jason Statham in a serious role.

Horizon line

Horizon line

I shared this with a friend who flies light planes, I don’t think she was impressed but the drama is high and there is a feeling it can’t get any worst throughout. It does…

Cruella
Emma stone makes this so so Disney movie actually good. To be fair I am not a Disney fan but this and Soul were actually good.

Stowaway

Stowaway

Stowaway seemed to come with little press, even with a good cast. It could be seen as another gravity and it wouldn’t be far off but its got depth and humanity.

Plan B
Classic teenage hi-jinks but with 2 women in an American state where the morning after-pill isn’t easily available. Fun tale with unexpected conclusions.

 Long Weekend (2021)

Long weekend

This film is a romantic comedy/drama but with a level of depth which of course is revealed at the end. Its a surprise and impactful.

Parallel

A mirror, the multiverse, greed and betrayal. What more do you need to check it out? Surprising film out of nowhere.

Searching

Searching

This is a little older but I missed it first time around. Its a good film capitalising on modern technology as an advantage and disadvantage. Well crafted and nicely put together.

A storybook ending

I’m pretty sure most people have never come across this one but its 18mins of clever crafted storytelling layered nicely on top of its self. You want more but you don’t need more.

TV

Loki

Loki

Ok I know a lot of people are watching Loki but its worth mentioning if you missed it so far. Its really good, funny and clever. Likewise  The Falcon and the winter soldier I didn’t really pay attention to the Falcon and the winter soldier. I am so glad I did check it out as the last episode genuinely left me with a tear in my eye. Its worth watching seeing what happened on social media after Euro 2020.

Time

I heard people grumble that Time was too harsh? I think its not but I did think its got links to the grittiest prison drama I have ever seen, OZ. Prison is no walk in the park and its important to remember that.

Russian doll
Russian doll

Recommended to me from friends, after talking about time looping films and TV. This one is a good and smart one with a strange ending.

Love, death and robots

The little known Love, Death and Robots was great in season 1. Season 2 takes the same impact with some great storylines you would expect in Black Mirror.

Startup

Startup

I missed this first time round but its good and clever. I watched all 3 seasons over a period of time and enjoyed it a lot. Shame it ended too soon as it was going somewhere. But its worth viewing for the tech drama.

Calls

Based on the French original. Its hard to describe this show. Its like nothing else on TV, mainly visualisation and voice overs. If I say Einstein-Rosen bridge you might get the general drift.

The irregulars

The irregulars

This new take on Sherlock Holmes is actually seems a bit strange but the story is quite intriguing. The show didn’t make it to season 2 which is a shame as it had the right amount of mystery and drama.

Soulmates

This is very much like black mirror but instead of each episode being completely different concepts, this is the same concept throughout. What if an algorithm could tell your one soulmate? The rest is drama like you can’t imagine.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2021)

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Amazon’s destroying unsold goodsICO’s concerns over facial recognition and Tiktok sneakily changing there privacy policy.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with ethical ratings for fashion brandsthe introduction of the solar protocol and even Google has temporarily halted their privacy sandbox plans.


The future of the browser conference

Ian thinks: There is so much to take away from this community run conference, as I wrote in a blog. I’m sure you will find lots to take away too.

We know what you did last lock down

Ian thinks: The FT’s short black mirror like interrogation feels like drama but its all real and possible now with the cloud of always on IOT devices. Makes some seriously good points

Report those dark patterns

Ian thinks: The Electronic Frontier Foundation goes on the offensive asking you to report those dark patterns. Similar to what Mozilla and others have done too.

Vestager’s vision for the a digital Europe

Ian thinks: I highly recommend the Re:publica conference and seeing Margrethe Vestager again in her new role outlining her vision (with some tech hiccups) is good. I also recommend looking around the playlists to find other good talks including these audio essays and this talk about Silicon values.

Ian thinks: The ICO makes a big change to the EU cookie banner, interesting to hear the American tech view on this all.

When people can sit together

Ian thinks: Enabling physical public spaces with more thought and care for the community. You can’t help but smile and wish playful public spaces existed near you too.

Mozilla puts your data to use for a better society

Ian thinks: This is impressive, although not completely new there no better time to have a trusted company shepherding your data into good causes you choose.

Another internet outage, raises questions

Ian thinks: The outage of Fastly earlier this month has stoked fires about how centralised the internet is for lots of people. I personally didn’t notice much due to the decentralised services I use.

Social graph as a key to change?

Ian thinks: Every once in a while a start up makes some bold but well meaning claims. The notion of the social graph on a blockchain although not new is worth keeping an eye on to see where it goes.

Experience some fairly intelligent machine learning

Ian thinks: A.M. Darke’s piece makes all those silly harmless throw away decisions, very real by the end. There is also a Q&A hosted by the ODI well worth watching to understand more.


Find the archive here

Playing by the rules in a pandemic

NHS Track and trace app telling me to self-isolate for 8 days
I am very much looking forward to Breakfast on Sunday morning

For the last 5 days I have been self isolating due to coming in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid19. It was a team mate during outdoor Volleyball on Wednesday last week, so the risk was low especially because I was using hand sanitizer and still avoid touching my face, etc.

We only found out on Thursday they were positive and then on Saturday I got the NHS track & trace notification, ironically just after coming back from Moss side Volleyball.

I have been using the rapid testing for Covid for a long while every 3-4 days and logging my negative tests results with the NHS. Regardless, I’ve been self-isolating and happy the weather hasn’t been so hot making working from home bearable.

The thing I have found (lets say) interesting is, my phone with the Contact tracing/Track and Trace app was on while in the park playing (in my bag on the ground). While other players did not, although we all knew the person had tested positive. Long story short, the NHS finally got in touch and told the rest of the team to self-isolate but a good 3 days later. The others only needed to isolate for 5 days instead of my 8 days. It makes sense but…

…I find it interesting and reminds me of the DRM discussion of how DRM only effects those who play by the rules.

The basic problem is that DRM is trying to keep honest people honest

Before you message me about the difficulty of epidemiology. I know I know, trust me I know!

This is also not judgement/shade on my fellow volleyball players. Someone from a coffee shop messaged a friend I was with, saying a staff member had tested positive. My friend decided to self-isolate while I decided not to because I hadn’t gotten a alert from the NHS (yes I do check in on the app every single time). If I had, I would have self-isolated like my friend, while still doing my rapid tests every 3-4 days.

I just find it all interesting, the judgement calls and personal decisions made during a pandemic.

Its only 30mins before I’m free to go

Self isolation ends soon

Hooray! I have big plans starting with Brunch and maybe a trip to Toolstation to get some bits for my new wifi changes. Exciting eh?!

The Covid19 variants finally renamed

Proposed names for Covid varientsI meant to blog about this a while ago but got distracted with different things.

Really glad there are names which doesn’t apply the country or region (strange the UK is Kent, while the rest is the whole country) to the Covid variants. I keep reminding people to say “the variant first discovered in country” not the country variant as it sounds like blame.

2 jabs and a blood test

My vaccination card, lidocaine cream and headphones

Its clear 2021, is going to be the year of 2 covid19 jabs and a blood test. 2 more jabs that I would expect and 3 more than I would actually like. Certainly not a good year for me, someone with a extreme needlephobia.

The one thing which clearly has changed is using lidocaine cream. Its a real game changer for myself. I’m not saying it makes things easier but the instant pain of the prick is less intense, making it less likely for me to react.

1 jab to go…!

My Trypanophobia and my first Covid19 vaccine

My vaccination card, lidocaine cream and headphones

I got my first Covid19 vaccine shot today.

I wrote about this in my last blog because I wanted to provide some helpful support for people who have trypanophobia/needlephobia. Here is how my day went today.

Feel free to skip to the vaccine centre part by the way

Setting things off in the right way

I packed my bag yesterday night and booked myself a early massage to get into the right frame of mind.

Today I spent most of the night not dreaming which is odd because I usually dream a lot since I started gong to bed later. My Oura ring said 77/100 and Sleep as Android said 92% shut eye. Although to be fair I did go to bed early (12:20am) and wake up early (8:50am). After the hot oil massage at Manchester massage (don’t judge me, it relaxes me and its just a massage, not what you are thinking) I went for breakfast at Ezra & Gil outdoor (it didn’t rain which was great). I applied the Anbesol to my left arm in the toilet and then I walked up to Sports city (Manchester City’s stadium where the vaccination centre is. I was running a late, so walked very quickly building up quite a sweat with my winter coat on.

The Vaccine centre

After finding the centre which is in the tennis centre I entered the reception space had to clean my hands, change my mask to a standard issue surgical mask. This was a pain as I hadn’t wore one in the pandemic and found them awkward. This didn’t really help the levels of anxiety to be fair.

When it came to giving my information and checking I am who I say I was, I told them about the allergies and also my trypanophobia. This is when things massively changed. The man asked me some questions and asked if it had taken a lot to come forward to this point. I said very much yes, giving a summary of my experiences with injections. He jumped up and said he will happily fast track me through the lines to make sure I get my injection rather than let the time build the fear in my mind and I get up and leave. I was shocked but knew this the right thing to do. As trying to block out what was happening around me would become increasingly difficult, even if you can’t actually see whats happening. Fear does a great job of clouding the mind.

The actual moment (Trigger warning for my fellow needlephobic)

The man stayed with me all the way through another ask of my details, another clean and I remembered I need to apply another lot layer of Anbesol to my arm. So we stopped while I did that. Next stop was straight into a booth. He handed me off to the staff and I sat in a chair talking with a nurse who did one more check (they did offer if I wanted to lie down on a bed too). I don’t think I thanked him because the adrenaline was going, but he explained my fear and disappeared.

Sat in the chair, 3 people (2 women and another man) were in the booth explained to me what was going to happen. One sat in front of the computer screen and asked my details. The other woman stood in front of me and asked which arm and explained when I can put my headphones on. She explained the vaccine and needle will come in from the left side and I will never see it unless I look over. It will be given to me by the man. Once I removed my shirt, I put my headphones on and the woman stood in front of me distracted me by gesturing to focus on her and not look around. She could see I was trying to tune out but there wasn’t quite enough time.

I did feel the needle in my arm but the distraction of the nurse gesturing, the soothing sounds of Tears (Protoculture remix) by Dakota running through my head and likely the Anbesol. I had no idea how deep it was or anything, I didn’t count the seconds but it was over before the beat started (so roughly 1 minute). It was quick not painless but manageable for me. I thought a lot about the holiday I already booked and being able to go see my parents soon. I never once saw the needle or anything medical, except the bed. This includes those yellow used needles bin, which usually freaks me out massively.

Afterwards

Afterwards I was given a tissue to wipe my hands is they were sweaty (which they certainly was but I didn’t notice till they passed it to me). Afterwards they gave me water, chatted for a while, explaining some of my previous experiences (even they were shocked by one of them) and then one of the women took me outside for fresh air. We stood outside for about 5mins before I made my way home.

On the way home via Asda to use the toilet and pick up a few things. On the walk home, I had to stop for a short while and have a quick cry (i’m not going to lie). The tension was too much and finally the feelings came out.

I would say as a whole the experience was Good (thats what I pressed on the way out) I think it was great compared to what I was expecting in my head. There were a few things which were not clear to me for example I only knew it was the Tennis centre because my friends had mentioned it before. It also seemed very geared up for car drivers not people walking or using public transport. The fast track was a great move and the distraction was a good too. I like I never saw anything even when leaving.

I am looking forward to part 2? No but I’m more ok with it, although I’m already feeling the flu like symptoms and had to pop a flu pill, drink some tea and might start on the oranges for sure. The plan of rewarding myself with some ice cream has gone out the window (or is still in the freezer).

Hopefully this will be helpful to some?

Lets talk about Trypanophobia and Covid19 vaccinations

So this week I’m having my first Covid19 vaccine injection (jab if you prefer).

I have trypanophobia (the fear of intramuscular and intravenous needles). I have talked about it many times before including how I was able to find a coping mechanism. Looking under the hashtag #trypanophobia and #needlephobia on twitter, there are many more.

Its clear the Covid19 vaccine is affecting a lot of people like myself (15% of adults have some kind of needle fear)

In my case (like many others), I want to get vaccinated but had to massively balance the positives and negatives in my head. The fear of needles is insane and that fear causes me to fight or flight. I really have to fight my mind and body to stop from leaving. It wasn’t till I finally had hypnotherapy, when things really changed how I felt with my absolute fear. It doesn’t work for everybody but it helped massively.

Most people can’t understand what its like and comments like, just look away, its quick, it will be over in moments, its a little prick, its painless; are deeply annoying and very frustrating to hear! Don’t say it! Its a deadly serious fear and as I explain to friends in the past. If there was a decision of having a injection to save my life or dying, in the past I considered the last option (I’m not the only one). Thats how serious it can be! Lets be deadly honest, its a piece of metal stuck in your arm and into your muscle. Its not natural and the terrible situations people like myself have been through will make you pass out if I told you them in full.

What am I doing to make things better for my vaccination?

I have spoken to my doctor about that can be done, short answer not much as the roll out is being done outside of the usual GP circuit. But I will fully tell the vaccination centre everything about my fear.

Zone out with loud music on headphones

I have a few people offer to hold my hand, which sounds silly but part of my coping mechanism is to wear headphones with trance music playing loud. I’m trying to zone out and giving my information pulls me back into the room, so someone else giving my info would be great. So less hand holding because last time a nurse offered, they told me to let go as I was crushing their hand. I was only 13 then, so imagine what would happen if I was holding someones hand now!

Do stuff which is the upside of it all

I booked myself an holiday in Lisbon, Portugal as a treat for getting the vaccine. I always knew vaccine passports were going to be a thing of some kind. Rewarding myself with a holiday for having 2 injections is a nice reminder of why I am putting myself through this. I’m also considering a massage just before too.

Thinking about it and visualise it

One of the things people always say to me is, don’t think about it. For me I have to so I can get comfortable with the fact its going to happen (been thinking about it for the last 2 weeks). When I have blood tests I have to watch it as I don’t want that surprise which puts me back at square one again. As its a shot rather than blood test, I’ll likely look away but visualise whats going on, counting the seconds.

Try lidocaine gel/cream again

A long time ago the doctors would apply a gel patch to my skin for 30mins before to help with the pain. I now know the patch contained Iidocaine. Without going into details, I didn’t find it helped much but I’m willing to give it another try. I’m heading to boots and superdrug looking for it now. I will rub it on my upper arm a few hours beforehand hoping to num my arm for the injection.

Hopefully these 4 things might help others having the Covid19 vaccine. Everybody keeps telling me how awful they feel afterwards but I can deal with that in my rational brain no problem.

I added a few links to some news stuff about this all, I also snatched the last Anbesol from Boots in the Arndale. My nurse friend, gave it the thumbs up and suggested applying it a few hours before then again while I’m waiting for my jab.

Where I’m reading information about allergies and the vaccines

Covid19 vaccine

I have mentioned a few times previously about allergies and covid19 vaccines. A few people have asked me about my sources, so I’d thought I’d share the biggest ones.

Anaphylaxis.org.uk’s Covid19 vaccine update is a good overview and not too difficult to understand. The site is gear for people with severe allergies for many things including different vaccines.

The NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service is a very technical detailed site including the exact ingredients and some terms I needed to be looked up. But it cuts straight through the noise.

Hope these are useful to people too.

My hope for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is put on hold it seems

My hopes of getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the UK seems to be on hold. Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, there have been a very very tiny amount of blood-clots which are not clear are caused by the vaccine or are coincidental.

Every life is important and blood clots can be lethal, however we got to look at the statistical amount of risk. I’m personally still keen to take the J&J vaccine over the others right now.

We need to talk about Asian hate crime

Don’t think its just America…!

In the early days of covid19, I can’t tell you how many times I heard people attach China to Covid19, like that was ok?!

No its not ok and its disgraceful as it paves the way for all those hate filled people to pipe up thinking there inner thoughts are now acceptable. Its not and never should be! This is a hate crime and should be tried with the gravity it deserves.

We generally need to stop this, for example naming the variants where first identified. Kent, South African, Brazilian variants. Nothing good will come from this! I understand its easier to say than variant B117 (the one first discovered in Kent) but zero good will come from this… I promise you this.