ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & Russian Warriors

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & Russian Warriors

You might have noticed that your entire Facebook news feed, YouTube, and every other website is full of videos of your mates.

There are random screams to be heard across neighbourhood gardens.

This isn’t a zombie invasion, or the Police running Crime Watch appeals – it’s the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

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You pour a bucket of ice water over your noggin, then nominate more people to do the same, and then donate some of your dosh to the ALS charity.

Now, first off, the ALS can bugger off.  You’ll see articles creeping in about how only 20% of donated money gets to ‘the cause’ and the rest pretty much goes on paying the wages of fat con men (aka Directors etc).

Luckily, many are already giving to the charity of THEIR choice – which can only be a good thing.

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I’m not going to get into the whole issue of whether you need to throw a bucket of ice over yourself on video to be able to donate.  There are a million charities out there, and many people who would do better to keep the money themselves.  I don’t care who you give to or your reasons for giving.  You’ll have to justify your choices to yourself, ultimately.

What most people don’t know is that dousing yourself in ice water isn’t a new thing to some of us martial artists!

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In ‘Systema’ – The Russian System – it is an integral part of the whole Russian health system.

Renowned Master of the art, Vladimir Vasiliev, recommends tipping a bucket of ice water over yourself twice a day!

This builds character and willpower, and has many health benefits.

Some people are scared that this Ice Bucket Challenge stuff will give them a cold.

You can’t ‘catch a cold’ from being cold!  It irritates me how this kind of wives tale still lives strong these days!  FFS did none of you do science at school?

Anyway, in Systema, if you are ill, then rather than having a whine and chickening out, those crazy Ruskies will actually go stand outside and tip a bucket of water over themselves EVERY HOUR!

Seriously.

The theory here (aside from psychic/natural reasons) is that your core body temperature is raised momentarily as it fights the sudden icy drop in temperature.  This will kill most bad things in your body, and have you back on your feet in no time.

I haven’t tried this myself, yet, but when you jump on the bandwagon and ‘brave’ a bit of cold water, you should maybe think about the practitioners of Systema who do this all the time.

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“You Shouldn’t Be On Facebook When You’re Ill!”

“You Shouldn’t Be On Facebook When You’re Ill!”

I’m well aware some of my fellow work Monkeys read my blogs, so this could be a bit controversial (although at my place I haven’t heard of anything like this)…

(“That’s not like one of your usual blogs, Nasty Evil Ninja!”)

I’m writing this and I am ill*.

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It’s ok – you probably won’t have to polish your shoes for my funeral, and stuff, but rest assured I the only possibly productive thing about me at the moment is my tramp-like mucus gland.

I feel like I’ve breathed in flames that have left my lungs and throat in tatters, my eyes are burning, head pounding, sneezing and coughing up bits of Kermit, and every damned joint in my body aches.

It is, without a doubt, A Shame For Me.

But, do you know what?  I can still get up and walk around.  I can get my own food and drink.  And I can use my laptop.

I say this because I have known several people who have got a bollocking from their work because they posted stuff on Facebook when they were ‘supposedly’ ill from work!

One friend removed all work people from their Facebook friends, because they got called in to see the Boss on their return to work, shown printouts of screen shots, and asked to explain.

So what had they been doing?

It wasn’t pictures of them out rollerblading and eating icecream.  It wasn’t them snorting cocaine off a hookers ample titties.  It wasn’t even for updating their status to show they were actually skiving off in Blackpool with their mates.

What one of their work ‘mates’ had reported them for was logging into Facebook.

Not posting anything, or even ‘liking’ anyone elses posts.  Just for showing up on the Instant Messenger as being online.

I raised the question: “Just how ill, exactly, do you have to be to stop you from logging in to Facebook?”

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I’ve had friends with multiple broken limbs and brain injuries who posted a status from their hospital bed.

A friend in Japan a few years ago was keeping people informed during the devastation of the earthquakes.

And just what the fuck is next?

Will people be facing disciplinary action if a colleague drives past their house and sees that *gasp* the filthy skiving bastards have SWITCHED ON THEIR TV?!?

And does switching on a TV take more effort than ever-so-lightly typing on a laptop that’s right next to your snotrags?

And why the Hell would any manager worth their salt not bitch-slap the stupid grass who would even THINK to dob someone in for any of that?

And woe betide anyone ‘ill’ who manages to drive or walk to see a Doctor…

how swine flu started. haha. i wish i was that pig

***EDIT***

Somewhat ironically, this blog was written over a week ago, and what followed was about 5 days of bed-ridden hallucinations and me being too bloody ill to post this!  Bah!  There was also a noticeable lack of posts from me on Facebook, which made this blog a bit redundant.  Bastard.

AWB’s – How To Keep Your Hands Warm: Oxford Hot Hands Kit

AWB’s – How To Keep Your Hands Warm: Oxford Hot Hands Kit

For the last 5 or 6 years y commute on the bike has only been around 10 minutes long, and so a decent pair of Winter gloves or even my Summer gloves with windproof (Cold Killers) inserts has been plenty to cope.

I have Polish ancestry, and could sunbathe in a meat locker quite happily, which helps, too.

Lately my commute has changed into a long hard slog into Birmingham City Centre, and with the temperatures dropping rapidly, my fingers are suffering.

I did a 7am blast to Mallory Park in freezing fog where I was getting seriously worried I’d got my fingers frost-bitten, they were so cold!  I pulled over and warmed my numb fingers on my exhaust at one point…

I forget the exact figures, but riding a bike at 40 mph the wind-chill takes the temps hitting your mitts down 20 degrees centigrade, or something daft.  This means that anything under 5 degrees feels like you’re trying to ram ice cubes into the cold dead eyes of a Polar bear with bare naked hands.

When I was a motorcycle courier I fought against this by fitting a set of heated grips – and it was awesome!  I rode in my Summer gloves most of the time.

WTF was I doing suffering from frostbite when I actually had a brand spanking new Oxford Hot Hands kit that had been sat in a box for 6 years?!?

I found them out and went off to fit them.

You can pick up the Oxford Hot Hands set for probably £10 these days.  I paid £15 around 6 years ago, and as I knew these worked, I haven’t tried any others and can’t recommend them.

Basically, all you have to do is wrap the hand grips around your bars using the velcro, route the wiring from those to your on/off switch, and then route more wiring from the switch to your battery terminals.  You can simply screw the attachments into the existing terminals in seconds, or wire it directly into a live feed wire.  The advantage of the latter option is that you can’t leave them switched on accidentally, as they won’t work when your ignition is switched off.

I took the easiest option, and had them fitted in around 20 mins time – which mostly consisted of cable-tying the excess wires and routing it beneath part of the fairing.

They don’t come on at a great temperature, but build up very strongly if you keep your hands around them.  If you take a hand off they cool pretty fast, but soon get you snuggly warm again.

They get HOT.

I’d forgotten just how good they are!

The tips of your thumbs can still get cold, but I used to get around this by tucking them under the palms of my hands – great on motorways but not so easy hooning around in the city.  The heat they kick out to the rest of your hands means you’re unlikely to worry about this anyway.

Oh, and I’m talking about wearing my SUMMER Halo race gloves, here.  With vents and stuff.  COmbine them with full Winter gloves and you should be fine.

The reason I don’t is that they do have a down-side.  Two, actually.  The first is that if you park up and haven’t hard-wired them, then it is possible some Tit could switch them on and kill your battery. (or you can forget to switch them off)

They are quite thin, but still more bulky than the handlebar grips you’re used to.  This makes your hands ache a little.  I’m sure you get used to it after a while, but this is the main reason I’m still trying to stick to the thinnest gloves that I can for that extra feel.

And it really is that cheap and simple!

Anyone can fit them, and if you’re still riding about with cold hands, you’re an idiot!

Go buy some today and tell me they’re not great!

Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

I’m not sure I like the idea of muffs (err…  😕 ) like many Winter riders suggest.  I prefer having my hands free to bat away stray squirrels and gesticulate at Audi drivers and stuff.

I have Polish ancestry, and would happily live in a fridge, so it doesn’t seem to affect me the same as most.  Either that or it’s because I’ve ridden bloody stupid sportsbikes through the snow and ice and THAT was enough to keep me pretty warm… Anyway, here’s what my 12 Winters on bikes and 2 as a courier have taught me:

Something for your neck is ESSENTIAL.  The one time you forget your neck warmer, The Forces That Be will wait until your throat is so painfully frozen you can’t even close your jaw properly, and then… THEN, your helmet strap will -ing whip you in across the throat like some hungry housewife who speed-read the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy whilst fantasizing about Indiana Jones. 

This tiny little strap will never do this for any amount of Summer riding – just when you decide you’re going to nip down to Tescos for a baguette on your lunch break.

I bought a Buff polar fleecy thing when I first started biking, and to be honest have never wanted for anything more.  It’s perfect.  Well, apart from the fact I picked the one with the logo all over it – which, when viewed from two steps back from the shop display, suddenly looks like tiger stripe print.  Seriously, why would I buy a tiger stripe print neck warmer?  Stop asking me why I did!  It’s a Buff LOGO.

You’re screwed for your helmet.  The visor will mist up despite spending £400 on the latest de-mist-o-prene coating, and you could tape all the vents closed and then stuff them full of thermite and somehow freezing cold gayness will still pass directly through your skull.

What you can do is buy a Foggy facemask.  This directs your shivering breath out of your helmet as opposed to onto your visor.  I wear mine all year round.  It’s uncomfortable at first until you get it adjusted right, but then so is riding into a snowplough because you can’t see.

If it’s snowing, enjoy it.  It’s like being in Star Wars!  Warp speed!  Hell Yeah!  And then it all builds up on your visor… which is why I think muffs are a Bad Idea…

In fact most gloves are crap when it gets really cold.  Your best bet is warming the buggers up before you get out, and hope they stay a bit warm before you get frostbite.

I can’t really recommend any Winter gloves.  I found wearing my regular Summer gloves (tape over the vents, if they get too bad) with some Cold Killers windproof gloves underneath did the job.  Rubber gloves will allegedly save you if you get caught out – I tried this once and have to say it didn’t seem to help.  You can call into any petrol station and get a free pair from near the diesel pumps, though.

If you’re doing long distances the ONLY thing I found that worked was a set of Oxford Hot Hands heated grips.  You wire it in (easy) and wrap them around your hand grips, and they work perfectly.  You may find you need to tuck your thumbs under your palms for a few mins to get them up to temperature, but other then that you can happily wear your Summer gloves with them.

I wear my Summer race leathers (Halo Oracle) as much as I can through Winter.  Remember thin layers are the best for staying warm, so get 3 t-shirts on under them and it will do the job!  I’d also recommend (again) Cold Killers thermal long sleeve windproof top thingy.  I also have a synthetic Lookwell Goldline jacket with removable thermal liner that’s excellent, although loosing its waterproofing after 12 years.  With that and the windproof top I’ve pounded out thousands of motorway miles – I’ve actually got off the bike before and been able to pull off a complete layer of ice from my front.  It kept me fine for all day long Winter riding at high speeds.

I have no miracle cures for the lower half!  I just wear my regular Summer leathers and am fine.  I did have the Lookwell trousers to go with the jacket, but a wet road, RGV250R and a flatbed truck did for them years ago.  They had a thermal lining, but even then I never actually used it.

And it’s the same for my feet – Sidi Vertigo Corsa race boots.  I’ll probably close the vents, if I remember.  I wear normal socks, but again if you get cold feet I’d advise doubling up rather than one thick pair.

Other than that the main thing I’d say is to get a bike with a fairing!  I have no idea why the ‘ideal’ commuter bike is seen as an upright bike with no fairing?!  Are you mad?  Sportsbikes have a fairing, naturally tuck you in out of the wind, and get your adrenaline singing nicely, as mentioned earlier! 

Whatever you’re riding this Winter, though – keep it safe and do whatever you need to keep yourself warm!

Winter Friggin’ Winter

Winter Friggin’ Winter

“What did you do in The Great War, Nasty Evil Ninja?”

I keep telling you – I wasn’t in any -ing war!  Having said that, I was wounded in ‘Nam.

Birming’Nam.

Weirdly enough, from what I can work out, I’ve picked up a nasty knee injury by sitting on the couch, drinking Bud and eating cheese and chilli covered nachos whilst watching the Superbowl.  Either that or Lill Boo was practising her wrestling moves on me when I was asleep afterwards.

Either way I woke up with pain and ruptured synovial membrane.  Bah!

As the internet is down at work I figured I’d update you on random thoughts, and a bit about what’s going on in my life.

Not bloody much!  It’s Winter – so I haven’t been riding my bike.  It’s not how it used to be…  I mean, I did 10 or 11 Winters riding sportsbikes on the snow and ice!  Looking back at it now I have no idea how I ever survived?  I’m so glad I managed to capture a few rides on video, because who is going to believe that I rode a ZX9R through fairly deep snow in conditions so slippery that I actually started sliding backwards down a hill!  Well here is the proof:

Aside from being pretty damned sure I’d never try and repeat anything like that (I actually rode my VFR750 in much deeper snow and slid backwards down a different hill), I have to admit that there is a part of me that misses it.  I’m not sure if it was ‘fun’ exactly, but it’s probably more to do with how much of a thrill it was.  How extreme.  How unique.

But after 11 years of that I learned to drive a car just over a year ago, and find I also love driving.  Compared to being on a bike, if you get out of shape in a car, you have time to go and make a sandwich, have a quick look on Facebook, and THEN do something to stop you from crashing.  It’s easy as Hell!

Winter is pretty much dead time for me.  I can’t do trackdays or anything I want, and there isn’t even any motor racing on TV.  Apart from rallying – and that just doesn’t cut it compared to waiting to see the Moto 2 boys slugging it out with 20 bikes going for the lead!

So I’m on Facebook a lot.  Playing stupid games.  And if I can safely sneak it in without Lill Boo getting bored to death (no, this is not inuendo!), then I’ll get the Xbox 360 on.

I’m still waiting with bated breath for GTA 5 to come out, but that’s ages away.  I discovered the Dragon Age games a few months back, and sunk many hours into those, and have just started on Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

I think I still prefer Fallout for that type of game, but Elder Scolls is pretty damned good!  It should tide me over until the snow pisses off and I can get my kicks scraping my knees on the tarmac again!

What do you lot do to keep you amused through the Winter months?

As a side note to all this, I learnt the other day that one of my favourite people on YouTube for his hilarious bike vids, mask pranks, and other malarkey – Svengalie – has passed away…

He seemed like a really good bloke, and it appears it may have been a suicide.  It goes to show that you never really know what’s going on in someone’s Real World away from their online antics…  Such a shame.  He was only 30 and had kids.  My dearest thoughts go out to them and his friends and family.

I’ll leave you with the first ever vlog I saw of his (before I even knew what a vlog was) that made me laugh so much.  Hopefully it will do the same for you, and spare a thought for Steven Love:

Sick As A Dog & The Cure

Sick As A Dog & The Cure

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I’ve just been ill for the last… Seven days.  It started with a virus-type feeling with a stomach upset, and just as I thought I was recovering I got slammed with something even worse.  I don’t think I’ve been that ill since I was a little kid.  I guess it wasn’t entirely bad, because I spent a lot of that time suffering from the Trippy-Woo Gaa-Gaas.

I’m not trying for your sympathy here, because it’s hardly like it was life-threatening.  Money-threatening, yes – on an agency I don’t get sick pay, so it’s gone down ‘nicely’ after a holiday and buying an engagement ring.  But none of this is the point of this blog.

For your average cold/virus/infuenza/lurgy, is there REALLY any ‘cure’ that makes the slightest bit of difference?

Everyone reaches straight for the paracetamol, which I don’t think makes the slightest difference.  OK, so the shooting pains I was getting all over my body may have been eased a little, and of course it should work on a headache, but what is it going to do against anything else?  It’s crap.  So we go all Lemsip – basically paracetamol and vitamin C.

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Ooh.  Big whoop.

By the time any vitamin C actually gets into your system, anything nasty will be long gone!  Waste of time.

Nasal decongestants are crap.  There are some which used to be legal which absolutely DO work, and are pretty much an instant cure – if you can get hold of them and want to risk being done for taking class B drugs.  And that’s if you can drag yourself out of bed and get down to Druggy Daves bedsit in the first place…

Cough mixture?  Again I’m dubious.  If your lungs are enflamed and you’re coughing up Kermit, how can tipping soothing liquids into your stomach help?  Yeah, I know they’re probably chock full of more crappy useless drugs…

So what are we left with that’s worth anything?

Alcohol?  It’s almost always a winner.  It does everything your other legal drugs do, but also gets you pissed!  And the way I see it, if you’re going to be ill then you may as well be pissed as well!  At the very least you’ll feel better about being ill!

Natural cures again are a bunch of arse.  Honey?  Lemon?  Git art of it!

Chilli works to an extent.  Chomp on a Thai Birdeye and see if that clears your sinuses!  The really hot ones will get you high on an endorphin rush, and they contain more vitamin C than any other fruit.  Of course, they also have a laxative effect, and that won’t go too well with a stomach upset…

Some believe hot chilli will burn out the fever – which reminds me of another method…

When learning Systema, I heard that a the crazy Russians of Spetsnatz have their own cure for general Lurgy.

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Every hour or two, they head outside with two buckets of ice water, and tip them over their heads – the theory being that it raises your core body temperature for a few moments and burns out the badness.

I can see how it might be more effective than paracetamol, but can’t say there has been a point over the last few days where I’ve felt capable or willing to do that one.

It would make you a proper hard bastard, though.

POEM: “Advent Calendar” by Jamz

“Advent Calendar” by Jamz

I count down the days
To a Christmas alone,
When i thought I’d be with you.
How many windows did you open
And take a piece of my soul?
Do you even see the days anymore,
Or is each one a painful eternity
That you give sweetly to me?
Will you ever wake
And see my ghost in your cold breath?
Or do you no longer sigh my name
In your selfish sleep?
Did you feel my winter
When you reached out for me?
Then draw back your hand
And recoil
Because I used to be your summer?
Merry Christmas.

28.11.03