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A happy Saturday

A rare Saturday today – rare enough for me to note here – in which I personally had a storming game of football (best I’ve played for years) and Crystal Palace registered their first 3 points of the season, beating Sunderland 3-1.

That, and my girls are back home after their week in Devon. Happy days.

The LED still flickers in your eyes…

P bought me a Kindle for our anniversary and I’ve been re-reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on it. If you’re familiar with the book, I don’t think I really need to labour the point about how it was remarkably prescient in terms of technology.

What struck me last night was the part of the book where Arthur Dent has his human assumption that mice were being experimented on turned on its head by Slartibartfast; in fact, the mice were experimenting on the humans. Right now, I feel like humans, far from being the masters of technology, are becoming slaves to it.

If I think about it, I guess this has been going on since the industrial revolution established workers as operators of machinery in a mass organised way, but at least when you look at that, it’s really quite obvious. And you could argue that at least the capitalists who owned the machinery were in charge.

My point is that the technology we see as liberating or at least leisure-giving is actually trapping us. In my more disturbing daydreams, I see people looking into their devices and being sucked into the screens (there’s an episode of Doctor Who that did something like that, come to think of it). It’s already metaphorically happening, what with people’s attention being taken from the here and now and diverted to the information firehose at their disposal. We’ve even got a word for it now: phubbing – the act of snubbing someone by diverting your attention from them to their phone. I’m not perfect but I’m trying harder to put my device away or down when someone speaks to me, even if they’ve actually initiated a conversation while I’m doing something on the device. I’m definitely getting better at not getting the phone out when I’m out for dinner or drinks with someone now, although since that’s a rare occasion nowadays, it’s not that laudable.

P being away means I tend to spend more time on the computer, so I guess my paranoia’s come from staring at a screen too much this past week.

Post title lyric taken from Vampire Weekend – Obvious Bicycle

You can dye your hair but it’s the one thing you can’t change – can’t run away from yourself…

Running: a great sport to start in later life on

One of the ironies of the current boom in participation is that while unprecedented numbers of people are taking up running, many of these people are in their 30s or above.

There was a time when I used to flatter myself that I was somehow ahead of the curve in certain things. Not so much a trendsetter but at least an early trend-spotter, especially when it came to music. But quite a while ago I realised that when I took an interest in something – prime example: sourdough baking – the fact that loads of other people were taking it up as well wasn’t a sign that I was somehow in the vanguard of a new trend but actually I was just one of the herd. At my ripe old age, I’m pretty comfortable with that fact.

‘Running: a great sport to start in later life’ on is more confirmation of that. In a way, it’s good to know that me taking up running isn’t part of some sort of impending midlife crisis triggered by thoughts of mortality. I’m just one of a huge number of people in their 30s and above who have decided to take up running, through whatever weird social mechanism turns these things into trends.

Post title lyric taken from Pulp – Help the Aged

Fast diet, week 3

Yesterday was the first fasting day of my third week into the fast diet. Since I’m following the 5:2 version of the fast diet, that’s only the fifth actual day of fasting but I can already feel a tangible difference in the way I’m eating on my non-fasting days.

As I mentioned last month when I said I was going to go on the fast diet, one of the things about the fast diet is that in theory you can go nuts on your non-fasting days. In practice, I’ve found that I don’t want to. Today, for instance, even thought I had fasted yesterday, I didn’t feel ravenous when I woke up. I just had a normal sized breakfast and a cuppa. You’d have thought I’d be up for an English breakfast the morning after a fast but the opposite is true: I really can’t face anything too heavy. And, in fact, I wasn’t at all hungry for lunch until much later than usual. I guess it’s similar to how, after something like flu that’s laid me low for a week without eating much, I don’t really feel like eating loads to catch up on what I’ve missed. It’s like my stomach has shrunk and is just used to hunger so I can cope with it better, and realise what true hunger is.

As an aside, one odd thing I found after the first day of fasting was that the cherries I ate for breakfast were the sweetest tasting cherries I’d ever eaten my whole life. I ate some cherries from the same box the next day and they didn’t taste as sweet, so there was definitely something going on with the tastebuds.

Even if I do decide to pig out, I certainly feel less guilty if I decide to order a medium pizza for myself instead of a small one like I did the other night but I didn’t force myself to finish the whole damn thing like I’ve sometimes done. And, in mitigation, I played 90 minutes of football earlier in the day so earned something of a pig-out.

Reading this back, I’m struck now how I’m focused on the non-fasting days and the positive effect the fast diet’s had on them. The fasting days themselves have become easier with each fast so they don’t really have as much significance to my mind as when I started. I’m even at a point where I wonder if fasting on just two days each week is really enough but the fact is that my weight is definitely coming down, my BMI is within healthy parameters and, importantly for me, my body fat percentage is coming down. I won’t release any figures just yet – partly because I’m too disorganised/lazy to gather them for you now – but will share when there’s a decent amount of data.