Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Day in the Life

Ultron: What is this?
This feels weird. This feels wrong.
I don't get it. Give me a second.

Ultron is such a relatable character. Every morning when the alarm drags my consciousness back into a pitch black room I know exactly how he felt in his first moments. Every morning I lay there for a while debating whether or not I really need to go to work. Wouldn’t it be easier just to destroy humanity instead? 

Ultron - living the dream.

Eventually the rational and irrational parts of my brain come to an amicable compromise: Pokemon Go. 

25 - 50 Pokemon later I somehow arrive at work and find myself relating to a completely different character: Maui from Moana.

Maui: Without my hook, I am nothing.
Moana: That's not true.
Maui: [angrily shouts] Without my hook, I am nothing!

Just replace “hook” with “morning coffee”. Damn, that’s the good stuff.

“It’s Dave time! Cheehoo!!!!”

My manager takes me to one side at this point and reminds me this is my last warning, I have to stop screaming cheehoo every time I drink my coffee. Spoilsport.

I really can’t complain about my job. That’s explicitly stated in my contract. But genuinely I have very little to complain about. Sure, sometimes I fantasise about doing something else, something “meaningful”. But then I remember we live in a world where salary is indirectly proportional to “meaningfulness” and I’m just not that nice a guy. And so I spend most of my day playing with Excel and sending emails about it.

Some time after sunset my workday comes to an end. 25 - 50 Pokemon later I arrive back home. I’m greeted at the door by the joyful calls of my little demi-human wanting to be picked up and cuddled. My girls sometimes greet me too, but they’ve mostly grown out of it.

Jean never fails to impress me by how well she’s managed to keep both children alive, whilst simultaneously managing 101 other little things. Not surprisingly she’s typically exhausted by the time I get home, so I wolf down my dinner without bothering to chew and check in for my Daddy shift.

Daddy is not as good as Mummy. Little people want Mummy. I spend most of my time just trying to drag them away from Mummy so she can have a second to breathe. I typically fail.

As anyone with children knows, the day ends with a fun little game of “Go To Bed!” After several hours of sulking and tears, exhaustion finally wins out as me and Jean collapse into bed and Charlotte and Matthew get the house to themselves.

A couple of seconds later a weird noise drags my consciousness back into a pitch black room.

What is this?
This feels weird. This feels wrong.
I don't get it. Give me a second.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Farewell 2017

2017 was, on the whole, a good year for the Clan of Jean.

Not surprisingly, the biggest changes were for our smallest member. Matthew showed great intelligence by choosing the Chinese for “cake” as one of his first words. He also took his first wobbly steps, obtained a passport, went to China and Lanzarote, started nursery and played with snow. I would say 2017 will be a year he’ll never forget, but chances are he’s forgotten it already.

Charlotte, having already started the year as a perfectly formed miniature human, obviously had less to change. But that didn’t stop her from doing it anyway. She made huge leaps forward in her reading, maths and artwork, learned to dance, studied Chinese, started playing the piano and became an amazing Flowergirl. She also watched all 169 episodes of My Little Pony. Twice.

Jean, as always, was the engine driving us all forward. As the head of the household she oversaw all of the above, keeping both children alive despite their best efforts whilst simultaneously managing our investments and planning our every spare moment. Our first family holiday to Lanzarote was an incredible time thanks entirely to her.

As for me, well, I completed Zelda Breath of the Wild. Including the additional DLC. And, as if that wasn’t enough, I watched Gallifrey’s sexiest Time Lord finally become a woman.

Yep, 2017 was a good year and 2018 looks promising too. I mean, seriously, the Doctor is a woman!

“Oh, brilliant.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

Deep freeze, deadly ice, travel chaos, school closures, power cuts, shopping centres shut down, the coldest temperatures in over 350 days and an already struggling NHS pushed to breaking point following a surge in injuries, illness and death.

It’s officially “the most wonderful time of the year!”

When Matthew peaked out of the window on a cold Sunday morning it all came as a bit of a shock. He’d never really seen snow before, he had no idea what was happening, but he knew he liked it.
Charlotte, on the other hand, knew better. She didn’t like it, she loved it. And she knew exactly what she wanted to do with it.

The only question was where to build it?

There was initially a suggestion of her going to the park with her friends to build one. Now that may seem like a good idea, but I decided it would be a rookie mistake:

  1. It would involve risking all our lives driving in the car,
  2. The good snow would all be gone, leaving only muddy mess,
  3. Most importantly, I had just downloaded new content for Zelda and it seemed like a long time to be away from my game.

Whilst the garden was probably a better choice, it still suffered from an unfavourable ratio of mud to snow.

Which, of course, left the obvious answer: building on the drive using the beautiful snow covering our car.
Boy did our car collect a lot of snow.

After wrapping up nice and warm we all got to work.
Charlotte continued to be ecstatic, Matthew continued to be confused.
“Wait, you tell me constantly every couple of minutes NOT to pick up dirty stuff from the floor to play with and now you’re HELPING Charlotte do exactly that?!?!”
At one point the hypocrisy got to much for him and he stormed off back into the house. I had to bribe him with a Peperami to come back.

A pile of car snow, two garden sticks, a carrot and some colourful “eyes” and we were done.
“Can I give it a name?” asked Charlotte. “Of course! Is it a boy or a girl?” Charlotte’s eyes lit up even more, “a girl!!!”

Good job I stopped Jean from giving it a penis.

After a few minutes she finally decided on the perfect name for her new best friend: “Davina Bow Charlotte.”

She informed Davina that she had to go back inside because it was cold, but she came out regularly to check up on her.

They’d be friends forever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Puppy Love

Only a year old and Matthew already has his first crush. Unfortunately she’s 5 times his age, and his sister.
He follows her around, copies her actions and demands to have everything the same as her.
Take yesterday for example:

It started off with a fun game of “Guess what Matthew wants”. For anyone who’s never looked after a small toddler, figuring out what they want is kind of like a game of “20 questions” but instead of answering the questions you just get screamed at.

Anyway, I eventually figured out he wanted a pudding. I gave him it and he seemed very happy. He ate a tiny mouthful then started screaming.

Round 2 of “Guess what Matthew wants.”

In amongst the screams I made out the words “Jie jie!!” - this is Chinese for sister. Pretty much all the words he knows are Chinese.

But what did his sister have to do with his pudding? Hmmm...
Turns out, he was refusing to eat the pudding that he really really wanted because Charlotte didn’t have one. As soon as we gave her one he munched his up happily.

He’s so smitten.

I asked Charlotte if she likes Matthew. She shrugged and said “kinda, but he’s annoying.”
Oh well.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

The 6 Week Challenge - Part 2

Six weeks ago I drove my wife, daughter, son and mother-in-law to Heathrow. Later today I will go back to pick them all up. The six week challenge I set myself - to extend my life expectancy by 6 weeks - is over.

So, how did I do?

Well, the truth is I have no idea. I probably should have researched something on life expectancy to see what my goal was. Oh well.

What I can do is compare my 2nd 3 weeks to my 1st. In the 1st 3 weeks I lost 3.4kg of weight, in the 2nd 3 weeks I lost 2.8kg. 

Bummer right? Wrong.

As I mentioned last time, "weight loss" is an irrelevant figure. It is focused on so much because its easy to measure, but relying on it too heavily is stupid.

Lets look at it a bit closer:

First thing to point out is that I have no idea what the kilo of "other" that I've lost is. I've checked and I still seem to have all my fingers, toes and dangly bits so I'm guessing it wasn't important.

The other thing to note is that my surplus fat loss has been fairly consistent in both periods, the key difference is that my muscle loss has halved. That makes my 2nd period much more successful than my 1st.

For anyone thinking of starting their own challenge, let me leave you with some of my top tips:
  • If you're doing it to "look good" be prepared for disappointment. I've lost 6kg of weight, including 4kg of fat and, honestly, I don't look any different. But I do feel better, which is far more important.
  • Ignore all the vast amount of often conflicting "advice" out there. Unless you're planning to be an athlete, it doesn't matter if you get the "best" or most "efficient" plan. Keep it simple: eat healthy and exercise. Build the details around what works best for you. For example, if I tried to force myself to go to a gym, I probably would have found a long list of excuses not to but I found doing over 10km of walking a day quite relaxing. Figure out what works for you.
  • Don't make any food "forbidden", just acknowledge that some of it is stupid. If you eat a bit of stupid food, oh well, live and learn. Making things "forbidden" just increases people's desire to have them. I'm fairly certain if a new law was made to outlaw punching yourself in the face their would be an immediate increase in the number of people punching themselves in the face.
  • Get yourself a scale that measures fat/muscle. These figures won't be as accurate, but weight loss isn't always a good thing.
  • For your sanity, make a graph. 
Right, now I'm off to pick up two of the worlds greatest chefs (Jean & her mum) to come live with me. Think I can keep the weight off?

Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The 6 Week Challenge - Part 1

Three weeks ago I drove my wife, daughter, son and mother-in-law to Heathrow. In three weeks time I will go back to pick them all up.

They are having a fantastic time in China, seeing the rest of Jean's family and friends, eating great food, going to loads of play places, ice-skating, even learning to play the piano.
If I were a "glass-half empty" kind of guy, I may worry that I'm missing out on 6 weeks with my little ones that I'll never get back. Luckily, I'm more of a "top me up" kinda guy.

I'm just going to increase my life expectancy by 6 weeks. Simple.

Disclaimer: Whilst I am technically a "doctor", I'm not the useful kind. I don't know jack about health and medicine. Everything below is just details of what I am up to, NOT advice on what you should do.

Three weeks ago I weighed around 78kg. Apparently for my height anything over 75kg is overweight and ideally I should weigh 65kg. So, how to get from A to B?

The plan: Eat less, exercise more.

I know right? I'm a genius.

So, now that I'm half way through, how's it going.
Not bad. I've lost just over 3kg and I'm no longer officially overweight. If I keep up the pace I'll get down to around 70kg by the time my 6 weeks are up.

Oh, one piece of advice I would give to anyone trying to lose weight. MAKE A GRAPH. Seriously, as you can see from above, it's not every day my weight goes down. Those peaks do not relate to times of "weakness" - weight is random. If you just weigh yourself from day to day those increases can be soul-destroying. It does not mean you have done anything wrong, it does not mean you should give up.

But, of cause, none of the figures I've quoted yet are actually important. "Weight" is kinda irrelevant in that "weight loss" is only good if you're losing surplus fat, not muscle.
Whilst not as accurate as the measurement of weight, it is nice to see I'm mostly losing the fat. Though I may need to up my game on the exercise to keep my muscle mass up.

3 down, 3 to go. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Happy 5th Charlotte Day

5 years ago my little angel was born.

After 5 days of labour I was shattered. Jean was probably tired too. But we had both never been happier.

5 years on, not much has changed. I'm still shattered, Jean more so, and we've still never been happier.

Charlotte is amazing.

I asked her yesterday what she liked most about being 4. She thought for a while then eventually said "I liked that it was the Year of the Chicken."

I asked her if she was excited about being 5, she didn't hesitate: "Of cause!! How can I not be excited!! Everything in front of me is so beautiful!!!"

Happy birthday my wonderful little girl. Enjoy being 5 and stay beautiful.

Smile, be happy.