2 October 2009

Keeping you on the move

I have been due a mobile upgrade for a month or so now, something I was reminded about by a phone call every other bloody day by the Carphone Warehouse. Well, finally, I had time and inclination to start the process of learning a new model again, and earlier this week acquired a Nokia E75.

My main requirement was to be able to access the internet for a fixed monthly fee rather than paying through the nose; and to be able to update sites, such as this blog, directly via the phone. This has, so far, only been a partial success.

It's early days, but how on earth do people type at any reasonable speed on those tiny flip-out keyboards? It's easier for me, at the moment, to keep the thing hidden and use predictive text instead. Using the keyboard has become like the process of learning where the letters are on a manual typewriter for the very first time and using one finger with a five second gap in between. And I've got big fingers; the tendency to press the wrong key is very frequent indeed.

I logged into this blog as best I could, saving the settings, and then the thing froze. It wouldn't tell me whether my login had been successful or not, it just stayed on that page. I'd much rather have got the error message. The signal was strong, so it wasn't malfunctioning for that reason. I left it in place and went to make a brew, and upon return from the kitchen it was still frozen on the same page, showing no signs of loading. So that experiment, thus far, has not worked. I'll have another go later.

Still, there are good things about this new phone. The GPS expertly got me to a radio station in Birmingham yesterday after I dismounted my train at New Street, although bumping into the National Lottery's OJ Borg (he's on tonight, y'know) at a car park nearby also helped, as he was headed for the same place. He and I go back years. At the very least, his gestures in the rough direction of the studios did back up where the big arrow on my mobile screen was telling me to go.

Ultimately, my phone is for phone calls. I won't be playing music off it or watching videos. So I'm happy with it. But I have a poor record when it comes to getting some of the other available functions on a mobile to actually work or, in the case of others, to understand what they really mean. IMAP Protocol, anyone?

29 September 2009

Let's get physical... #3



Still at the gym four times a week, and some days are better than others. It really is something for which you have to be in the right frame of mind, else it can be purgatory.

My big breakthrough is that I've now learned how to run. Even when a fit youngster who won stuff in the swimming pool, I was bad at running. I managed to drag myself round the cross-country route in PE once a week but not because I knew what I was doing, merely because swimming had made me fit enough to get by.

My previous aim for the treadmill was a half hour session at 7 km per hour, which is the fastest available walking speed before the machine asks you not to hold the heart monitors for safety reasons. Now, however, I can do bursts at up to 11km an hour which is something of a medium-paced sprint for me.

I can't do it for very long before I slow myself down again, but as calorie shedding is my main aim, it seems to work well for me. Yesterday I got rid of 500 calories on the treadmill alone in 32 minutes - my target was 500 in 20 but it took me a while to get the rhythm going. It remains my target and I intend to achieve it before long.

I'm still doing some weights but whenever I turn up, there's always at least one bloke with the kind of muscles that suggest ten years of readily lifting or balancing weights that are twice - or more - the level I'm comfortable with. The last thing I want to do is injure myself in the name of some manner of masculinity competition, so I stay on the weights for no longer than necessary. I'm well aware thanks to the calorie count that the treadmill is beneficial, but I don't know how well I'm doing by lifting weights I can actually lift (albeit sometimes with involuntary exclamations and a bit of a sweat on) rather than aiming for a level with which I will seriously struggle.

These more muscular blokes always wear vests, and always have a tattoo of a flash of lightning covering one shoulder and bicep.

For the time being, I've given up using the pool as part of my fitness routine. It's simply because the hairdo swimmers are a total pain in the arse. They look daggers at you when you are resting at one end of the pool because a mild splash of chlorinated water may have touched their face. There are also always teenage lads trying to swim full lengths underwater (and failing - the part-timers; that sort of thing was a breeze when I was 15, meh) and attempting to tumbleturn (and again failing), and don't realise that they zigzag all over the bloody place as they do it. I spend half my pool time stopping or changing direction or slowing down or altering my technique and it simply doesn't do any good. Maybe the Masters is calling after all.

Anyway, I shall be back in that health centre later today, aiming for 500 in 25, and then eventually that target of 500 in 20 will come. This will be via the treadmill only, as the stepper and the cross trainer I still simply cannot use without my calf muscles going on strike after 30 seconds.

My weight has barely changed, and my stomach remains as visible as ever, but I'm sure that something good is happening somewhere. If nothing else, I'm sleeping extremely well...

28 September 2009

"You put your finger on the trigger and you shot my heart..."

I walked to the Liverpool v Hull City game on Saturday with the bass player from Dead Or Alive. Word.

Turns out he lives in Cheshire, near a couple of exiled Hullensians whom I see at every Tigers match. I didn't recognise him without an introduction - grey-haired, he was in an anorak and Liverpool scarf and blended in seamlessly with the heaving throng - but as soon as his identity as "Mike Percy from Dead Or Alive" was pointed out I pictured him instantly in his heyday.

The poor bloke. During our subsequent ten minute walk from the Flat Iron to the stadium, I was singing In Too Deep (always my favourite Dead Or Alive song), asking him about the "Rock It! Rock It!" outburst from Pete Burns which appears at the top of You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) on compilations, but didn't on the original 7" single (which I own), remembering just how long it took that same song to get into the Top 40, and then to No.1, after initial release (you can blame/congratulate Simon Bates for that, apparently), recalling that odd box-shaped bass guitar with no end attached to the neck that he used to play, and quoting Lover Come Back To Me and My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor).

He kept laughing and offering expletives of disbelief that he had met someone who just doesn't say "That Pete looks a bit odd these days, doesn't he?". I most enjoyed informing him that I managed to get my Saturday night 80s crowd to ape his flag-waving routine on the video to You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) instead of what crowds usually do when that chorus comes on - a kind of pirouette with the shoemaker hand-dance above their heads. That belongs on Agadoo, thanks very much.

He was a top bloke, and as we parted company at the Shankly Gates, I suspect he was a mixture of relieved and bamboozled. Oddly enough I then felt both of those emotions after the game - bamboozled at a 6-1 defeat and relieved that it wasn't more. Anyway, I'm now hoping to meet the guitarist from Its Immaterial when we go to Old Trafford in February.

Here they are doing In Too Deep. My new showbiz chum is the second one to be seen singing into the water during the first chorus.