Thursday, June 24


Although the volume has diminished so that we can now actually hear the commentators, sometimes even the fans, those blasted vuvuzelas are ruining the World Cup.  Worse, they are threatening to take over in every other sport - they had to specifically ban vuvuzelas from Wimbledon, in case some idiots decided it would be "fun" and "atmospheric".  Cricket and baseball are two more sports that have lately banned vuvuzelas from their stadia.

Quick recap of the vuvuzela:

1 - They are plastic trumpets invented by a manufacturing company in 2002; or, allegedly, by a guy who first made an aluminium one in the 60s made from an old bicycle horn.  Either way, they are not part of the traditional South African culture, just an excuse to make a quick Rand.

2 - It has a sound pressure of 120db, as loud as a 747 jet engine at take-off, and can lead to permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears after prolonged exposure.  Thought you were lucky to get a ticket to see one of the matches in South Africa?  I know a good hearing aid company...

3 - TV viewers were unable for the first round of matches to even hear the commentators; the commentators were even unable to hear each other.  Players could not hear their team-mates on the pitch, some felt disorientated and unable to concentrate; even the stadium announcer cannot be heard (imagine if they ever need to evacuate the stadium, nobody will hear the tannoy!)

4 - Demand for earplugs to protect from hearing loss outstripped supply; a vuvuzela manufacturer came to the rescue and began selling earplugs to spectators (a double whammy money-spinner, if ever I saw one).

5 -Their monotone sound drowns out all the atmosphere from the game, the ebb and flow of the fans cannot be heard, no more the traditional (for England) fans' band playing the theme from The Great Escape, I can only hope the Brasilian samba band can drown out the vuvuzela-wielding zombies.

Think I'm over-reacting?  Check out this guy:

Problems viewing?  Try here.

Wednesday, June 23

It's oh so quiet...

The problem with summer is that, just at the time when it's perfect weather for a bike ride, there are so many sporting events on TV - after the cycling Classics, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Suisse, it's now time for the World Cup which itself overlaps with Wimbledon and the most-watched sporting event on the planet, the Tour de France.

Yeah, you heard me right.  Cycling.  Tour de France.  The most-watched sporting event.  Thinking the Olympics or the World Cup has more?  For a start, they're only every four years; secondly, not everyone watches every single event or match; finally, don't forget there are millions that watch the Tour on the road - one million alone on Alpe d'Huez!

To top it all off, it's my 40th birthday this Monday, so I'll be running away for a long weekend with Cassie, to pretend that it didn't happen and I'm still "in my thirties"!

So, if I've gone quiet, you know where I am - either out for a long bike ride or watching football or cycling (or maybe even tennis)...

Monday, June 14

Should we tolerate self-abuse?

Nothing to do with self-harming, which is a dark topic about which I'm nowhere near knowledgeable enough to discuss.

Lately, I've seen a few comments, references, forum posts and status updates that seem to suggest that we should accept obesity, despite the fact it's more deadly than drug dependency or alcoholism. This trinity of substance abuse (food, drug, drink) has become so widespread as to almost seem normal - what was previously overweight is now the norm, people get away with drinking amounts that would've raised eyebrows not long ago, and certain drug use has become acceptable.

In my previous post on this topic, I referred to a statistic that food, drug and alcohol abuse account for 80% of the NHS's budget. Recently, I talked about this topic and was curious enough to find out how much that is:

The NHS budget last year was £110bn 
The number of tax payers in the UK is approx 29m
That's £3800 every year for each taxpayer towards food, drugs and alcohol abuse.

Next time you're asked to tolerate obesity, binge drinking or substance abuse, remember how much these people are costing every one of you £10 a day.

These people are wasting YOUR money!

Addendum - this doesn't include the cost of promoting good eating habits, policing, alcohol-fuelled criminal damage, thieving by drug users to fund their habit, etc.

Monday, June 7

Off the grid

For a few months after my last post, we had problems with my cable/phone/broadband provider (Virgin Mediaaaaargh) and decided to ditch them in favour of Sky. Problem was that Virgin had removed our old phone line, so we had to get a new one (££££) before Sky could hook us up with a broaband connection. A series of engineer visits later and I now have a much faster connection than before (even though it's supposedly the same), wider choice of channels for a cheaper price, a proper phone line (useful if wanting to change broadband providers), and a HD box at no extra charge (cheers, Mr Engineer!). A lot of headaches and frustration and wanting to pay a visit to Virgin Media's Customer Services and "go US Postal on their ass" BUT a much better package now we're out the other end of the tunnel. Still trying to remember my new phone number though...

Been connected for about a month now but so busy training and riding (a spell of rare good weather) that I feel like I've become a technophobe. Now the weather's gone back to normal, i.e., crap, I'll probably be posting more regularly.

BTW, at a recent race, I also managed to lose my mobile phone while packing the bikes into the car. Argh! I still have the same number but I've lost all of my contacts - maybe I should go back to pen and paper...