Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I owe this one to Seth Godin. I was reading ‘Tribes’ and this was a part that stuck out for me.

how was your day

“How was your day?” – Its one of those common every day questions that people ask, part polite interest and part conversational opener. Standard responses are usually expected to be positive. The conversation then moves on.

But what if your day wasn’t fine? You can have a moan and the relationship you have with the listener will depend on the level of sympathy/interest you gain. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you wet your face. Nobody really likes listening to whining. But we all have days when things don’t go so well and sometimes a good rant to a friend is a cathartic process that leaves you feeling better and as long as you can do it with sufficient wit or interest (and not too often!) means the listening party doesn’t suffer too much.

But what of your day isn’t fine and your they haven’t been for some time? How you answer this question in public does not need to be the same as you how you answer it to yourself. But if your days haven’t been fine it’s what you do next that’s the important bit. Many when asked how their day was, answer “yeah fine,” almost by rote and move on to the next piece of conversation.

I’ve met enough people who hate their jobs, hate how they look, don’t like their health or are in relationships they don’t like. Yet they keep on doing the same job, the same diet,  the same lifestyle choices and stay in the same relationship. If things aren’t going well the first thing to do is to identify it. Then decide if it is a transitory thing or whether it’s here to stay. If its transitory, how will you work through it? If it’s here to stay, what are you going to do about it? It’s up to you to sort out what you will do to turn it around. Waiting for someone else to show up and do it for you is likely to be a long wait.

As I’ve got older I’ve become less tolerant. I don’t have time for people who procrastinate and I get annoyed with myself if I find I’m doing it. I’d rather get on with things than spend hours brooding about them. Planning strategies and the time it takes up is fine. Paralysed by indecision isn’t. Life is too short (and I’ve got fewer sands in the timer than I used to have) so upwards, onwards and deal with whatever needs dealt with. That gives me time to do the good stuff, rather than just deal with the bad stuff.

When things get on top of me, there are a few strategies that I’ve found help me out.

  • Think first, react second. Be logical.
  • Break down big problems into various smaller ones and then deal with them one by one.
  • Have I had any similar issues in the past for any experience I can draw on?
  • Remind myself I’ve dealt with worse in the past and got through it.
  • Look for the positives in any situation, there are always some.
  • If a friend came to me with the same problem, what would I advise them?
  • And how pissed off would I be if they then went and did something different in the spur of the moment which made the situation worse?

So how was your day? It’s a question we should ask ourselves every day and answer it honestly. And if we don’t like the answer then time for a serious look at what we are going to do about it.

Gym fitness at 50 plus

Posted: March 8, 2014 in Fitness, General, Musings

I came across a couple of websites that caught my eye while meandering across the interwebs.

Fit After 50 and Fitness After 50.

My first thought – Only in America…

But that’s probably a bit unfair. The idea of having a gym with a minimum age limit of 50?  The demographics make sense, the 50-65 age group tend to have a bit more disposable income and at a complete guess I’d expect them to be a bit less demanding to deal with when it comes to fitness. On the surface both the organisations I’ve noted seem pretty similar except the first is a stand alone business and the second is a franchising opportunity.

I’m slightly uncomfortable with the marketing behind these organisations, yet at the same time can’t help but think they may just have hit a good idea. A lot of the focus seems to be on potential customers fears:

  • Apprehensive because you didn’t know how to use equipment or properly perform exercises?

  • Overwhelmed in the gym without expert guidance and personal attention?

or :

  • The Welcyon exercise machines are ideally suited for aging adults, including those with health issues.

  • To minimize the risk of injuries, Welcyon is equipped with machines that provide stable, controlled, objective, and reproducible exercises.

They both seem to pick on the potential customers’ fears or lack of confidence. I know I’m not quite over the 50 mark yet but I don’t want to be choosing my fitness options on the basis of which one I’m less scared of. But there are others out there who feel differently, I’ve certainly seen enough people in gyms moving timidly from exercise machine to exercise machine clearly not confident in their abilities and clearly too shy to ask anyone for help. So a gym that provides a safe environment for that kind of person to be confident in, is that such a bad thing? Looking at  it like that it doesn’t sound unreasonable.

Both set ups offer group involvement. Fit After 50 has a wide array of classes and Fitness After 50 promotes its lounge area for sharing a coffee or a game of cards after a – well it doesn’t really say after an anything. Just that it has an area to socialise in. To me it sounds a bit like an old folks home at this point.

The Welcyon site has a photo tour of the gym and describes it as smaller and more intimate than a normal gym. The pictures don’t fill me with confidence, the clientele look a good bit older than in their 50’s. Or perhaps they just had tough paper rounds when they were kids. Lots of machines and no pictures of free weights.

Fit After 50 doesn’t have a photo tour, but at least there’s a picture of someone using some dumb bells (albeit very small ones). One thing that amused me was at the About You section you get to rate your fitness level – beginner or intermediate. No other options. I think that sums up where they see their client base coming from. It’s not over 50s who are training regularly and already in good shape, but those who aren’t at that level and without the self-confidence to go to a mainstream gym and train there.

One thing missing from both sites were any details of costs, there is talk of plans and of course its the usual ‘contact us for pricing information’. So I can’t give detail on what they charge. I suspect it will be above the usual costs for a standard gym as the marketing focus is on what they offer that regular gyms don’t and not about cheap prices. If you want a comfy area where you don’t need to worry about your personal fears, that is bound to cost extra. They are targeting a niche market and its unlikely they do that on the cheap side.

I can’t blame them for what they do, business is business and all that. But for me, I think I want to ensure I’m still looking for a box well above ‘intermediate’ when it comes to assessing my fitness rate in years to come. Neither of these locations do anything for me other than fill me full of fear! All I see is ‘attempts at fitness for old people before you die’ – that’s not what I’m looking for. Instead of living a younger life, that is living an older life. Count me out.

Holiday Booked – Mexico!

Posted: March 2, 2014 in General, Musings

One thing that always helps me is having something good to look forward to. It lifts my spirits and gives me something to aim for. One of the best for me is booking the annual holiday and commencing the countdown to have everything in place for when it comes round. This weekend the Fair One managed to find a good deal for the Excellence in Cancun, Mexico. We’ve booked it and the count down commences, yesterday was exactly 26 weeks to go.

Excellence-CancunHow good does that look? So come the end of August we are off for two weeks in the sun, with lots of different restaurants to choose from and lots of cocktails too. And also one key requirement – it must have a gym.

Excellence-gymOK, so its hard to tell exactly everything they have, but they will have enough to get me a workout. I suspect a TRX set up won’t be there but I’ll find enough.

 

So what’s so special about booking a holiday? Aside from planning it the following all goals suddenly appear:

  • I want to look good while on the beach, that means the desire to have a ;beach body’ kicks in, my training and diet both take a boost.
  • My mood improves. If something isn’t going so well just now, having something to look forward to reminds me that whatever the current problem is its only temporary.
  • The prospect of two weeks of good weather cheers me up when looking out at the rain at home. (Definition of summer in Glasgow is the rain isn’t so cold as it is in winter)
  • We take the opportunity to improve our wardrobes. So a few clothing treats in store for us.
  • My fitness journey started with some holiday photos, it’s a great motivator to see how far I’ve come since then.
  • Its two weeks away from all the hassle and drudgery of the normal existence to just chill out and cherish each other’s company in an idyllic setting. How can that not be special!

Our moods both really picked up once we booked the holiday yesterday – and there was no way we weren’t making the gym today. See what I mean, it’s started already!

Only 25 and a bit weeks to go…

It was with a wry smile I read this article on the BBC website. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘slimming industry’, in fact I can’t think of a better example of a business which deserves to be pummelled out of existence. If that sounds a little harsh then let’s have a look at the evidence. If the slimming industry model actually worked, if the products were successful,  we wouldn’t have the industry. Instead we would have fit and healthy people. The slimming industry model is built not on customer success, but instead on customer failure. According to research, 77% of people who buy slimming industry products gain all lost weight within 5 years. I can’t think of any other business where a 77% failure rate would be accepted.

The slimming industry makes its bucks by selling dreams – not solutions. Well, not solutions for 77% of the customer base anyway. Buy a fad diet and the products, lose some weight, finish fad diet, put some weight back on again, buy another fad diet and more products. Repeat cycle for the rest of your life, or until you don’t care any more and decide being fat and unfit is acceptable. Wherever there is a fad diet there is someone making money. Buy the book, the DVD, subscribe to the monthly update, the supplements and then wait for the next one to come out that is EVEN better (which is normally not too hard a promise to keep). The money (and we’re talking billions here!) comes in from the repeat failure of customers unable to make a long-term difference. A significant part of that is down to the customer looking for an easy way to have the lifestyle they want while not putting on weight. ‘I want to eat burgers and pizza every night and still look great.’ That is never going to work and anyone who says its possible is lying or more likely about to try to sell you an alternative. Yet the slimming industry keeps on flogging the dream and the suckers keep paying for it.

There is a Weight Watchers group that meet weekly at the gym I go to. I see them sitting around in the reception area. One slim woman with big hair, perfect make up and a painted on smile clicking away on a laptop while taking money, one set of scales and a bunch of overweight people sitting about. There have been a at least a few times I’ve thought of saying ‘instead of sitting on your ass in the reception area why not go into the gym and maybe move around a bit?’ But that would be rude and probably hurtful. I believe that most of the people attending these meetings think that by showing up and paying their fees they are already making a positive step to lose weight.

weight scales

So now Weight Watchers are feeling the pinch themselves. They have fallen victim to the amount of fitness and diet apps out there. We no longer have to sign up to Weight Watchers and attend meetings, we can fool ourselves from the comfort of our own couch while eating potato chips that by downloading an app we are living a more healthy life. It won’t make us any healthier but at least it might make the snake oil market a good bit more competitive which will allow people to have more money for their medical bills when their health fails from following the fads of the slimming industry. Looking at the company statement the writing has been on the wall for WW throughout 2013. Growth in quarters 2013 went 10.9%, 6.6%, 0.6% and then in Q4 down 5.3%. And I’d also love to know what was behind:

Excluding the $14.5 million over-accrual reversal benefit associated with the settlement in Q4 2012 of the UK self-employment tax litigation

Looks like they got off far lighter than they expected for some tax ‘issue’, or perhaps just a clever way to defer some profits to reduce tax dues for the year? Who can say? For me, and I’m not an accountant, the big thing in the statement was how attendance had dropped from 50.7m to 42.9m in one year. So over the course of 12 months approx 1 in 6 people who had been paying Weight Watchers decided to stop. There is no business on the planet looking at that statistic that isn’t thinking ‘we must do something about this’. It’s also a chance for a positive change. Its their big chance to do something the slimming industry has never done – provide an honest product that makes a lasting difference. I’m not holding my breath though.

One last thing, if you ever get the chance to see the BBC series The Men Who Made Us Thin, then I really recommend you do so. A fascinating documentary on the marketing that leads us to purchase products from the slimming and health industries and also some of the history behind it. A really good series. You can find a write-up of it here.

That this is a day late probably sums up everything about my attitude towards Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I am against a day which celebrates love and being close to someone, it’s just that I can’t be bothered with the tacky marketing and the doing something on the day because s/he will be massively offended if I don’t.

February 14th this year saw me at work all day, followed by an appointment with the trainer at the gym. Roses, cards with high content of pink and cute did not feature throughout the day. Was Mrs. Mid Life Female bothered about this? Not a jot. A few years ago we managed to find decent cards for each other but not these days. We decided to stop buying cards for each other when we agreed we couldn’t find any we liked, the gesture becomes a bit empty when its preceded with an apology about ‘how it was th best card I could find’. For the past few years all I can find is nauseating slush e.g.

valentineslush

You have got to be fucking joking!

It ticks a number of Valentine’s Day boxes – Roses: check;  Talks about love: check; Flowery semi-poetic gibberish: check. If I spoke to the fair one like this she would administer a well deserved slap. This example is typical of what’s on offer at this time of year. It’s designed so the person giving this can avoid having to come up with anything original themself. Frankly its awful. Any other day of the year uttering this kind of gibberish will get you dumped on the spot. But on one day of the year it is apparently OK to spout this kind of rubbish and the poor recipient feels they have to tolerate it on the grounds that it is Valentine’s Day. There is a great scene in National Lampoons Animal House when John Belushi is walking down stairs of a frat house toga party only to find some guy with an acoustic guitar singing about love, off-key, out of tune and with appalling lyrics. Belushi takes the guitar from him and smashes it to pieces, before handing it back. This is how this kind of card makes me feel. Not loving and romantic but violent and mildly psychotic about finding the person who designed it and pulling out their fingernails with pliers.

Of course if you are a celebrity the gesture and the expense involved are the most important things. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like being rich and spending a vast sum on a gesture and ensuring your agents leak it to the press and turn it into a PR stunt. Love is getting one of your minions to arrange the Valentine’s Day gift but press recognition is what really counts.

In the past I have been out for Valentine’s Day dinner, restaurants bursting at the seams with couples looking into each others eyes over a plastic rose and some cheap pink bubbly being passed off as Proseco, trying desperately to think of something to say. Never again. Its one of the few days of the year I’d really advise NOT going out for a meal.

For the mid-life male its a little less mass market. It’s about what celebrating what we enjoy. So after work today we settled down with a take away curry (extra chillies please), a nice bottle of wine and will follow it up with a reasonable movie, which will most likely have little romance but an impressive body count. I will tell her how much I love her and it will have nothing to do with the day of the year – because I do it every day. No pink frilly tacky shit in site. We’ve been together for over 20 years and in that time we have gone past the stage of doing things because somehow it’s expected and instead we do what makes us happy.  She doesn’t need 1000 roses to know I love her, she needs to hear me say it and know I mean it, 365 days per year – not just 1.

Search around the web or Twitter these days and this expression is common enough. But what is Life Hacking?

No matter what you might think, Life Hacking does sound pretty cool.  If asked what you do for a living which answer would you rather come up with:

Answer A – I’m distribution manager. Or…

Answer B – I’m a life hacker.

I know which one sounds more interesting to me. Life hacking sounds grandiose, it sounds worthwhile, its modern, its cutting edge. Its making differences to lives today – and those differences will make a fuck of an improvement to your life – right now!

According to Wikipedia:

Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way.

So life hacker isn’t really an occupation, its more a hobby or perhaps a pastime? Let’s reword the question. So what do you get up to in your spare time?

Answer A – Try and hit the gym regularly, keep up with some books and a little blogging

Answer B – I life hack. I make myself more productive and more efficient.

For sheer interest value I’m still with Answer B. But as its now only a pastime, I’m starting to think it’s sounding a little cheesy and maybe smacks a little of an over inflated ego.

There are lots of websites and individuals with Lifehacking claims and these range from the sublime to the ridiculous. For example I’ve seen a Lifehack suggesting that you shouldn’t wash a pair of denims and instead just use Fabreeze to freshen them up a bit so the denim doesn’t fade so quickly. Save washing only for when they are covered with stains and noticeable dirt. OK, this sounds a moderately practical idea but somehow it doesn’t conjure up what Life hacking sounds like. Another one I saw suggested taking a picture with your mobile phone of friends when they borrow something (with the borrowed item) so you can remember who borrowed what later on. Seriously? This is hacking one’s life? No, it’s just old-fashioned ‘tips and tricks’ and even then some of them are just plain idiotic (my suggestion is if you are incapable of working out who you lend things to, its time to stop lending things…. How’s that for a Life hack?).

That said – I still want to hack my life. But not in a fortune cookie kind of way. I want to review my actions and my productivity. Could I have done better using a different technique? Could I have gotten better results? And my favourite unanswered question – what is my potential to do that better next time? Where that is anything from the report I’ve written, to the time it took me to make a playlist to the set of reps I did at the gym. The hack comes in with the improvements I can think of.

To me a life hack should be meaningful and not as Wikipedia suggests a “novelty”. It’s not a gizmo to make your desk marginally tidier (use bulldog clips to secure cables) or how to stop paint spilling off a tin (put a rubber band across the open top of the tin to wipe your brush on). Life hacking should be something you feel enriched by, your life has changed for the better.

  • Ignore calories and concentrate on what you are eating and what’s in it.
  • If you want to lose weight, don’t just go to the gym – eat less. And eat more carefully. For weight loss eating better is way more productive than going to the gym.
  • Don’t look for motivation, it’s a variable. Think about discipline – it is a constant. (This statement alone is making a massive difference to me just now).
  • Don’t change the world overnight. Just getting lots of small gains will change your world for you. Next thing you’re winning the Tour De France.

To me, the above are life hacks – real life hacks. That’s the sort of information that changes lives – meaningfully. So my aim is to become a life hacker. I’ll hack my own life to be happier. I’ll hack it to be more productive, to be fitter and to feel I’m living up to my potential. I’m not interested in ‘novelty value’ and never will be. So the Mid Life Male will be looking to become a meaningful life hacker. It might not be everyone’s definition of life hacking, but it will work for me and hopefully along the way some others too.

Living A Younger Life

Posted: January 29, 2014 in General, Motivation

For the past couple of years I’ve been unable to come up with a suitable description for what I want to achieve with my lifestyle. A big part of it has been me being unable to quantify what I want to achieve. Be fitter, healthier, better, more active physically and mentally. It’s all a bit vague. Fitter than what? Better than what? I’ve ben unable to convey in anything but the most general terms what my aim is.

This morning I had an ‘Eureka’ moment. I was just browsing the net and somehow I came across a website for Drenched Fitness in California. So not exactly local to me. However it looks an attractive site so I had a look around and came across this page. And there was exactly the description I’ve been looking for – ‘Living A Younger Life‘ – this sums up exactly what I’ve been trying to achieve. They may not be the first people to use the phrase, but its the first time I have seen it, so I’m giving them the credit for it.

Anyone reading that expression knows exactly what is intended. My mistake when trying to describe what I wanted to convey was too much analysis. Looking for things to compare to so I could describe a clear message. All I ended up doing was cluttering up the idea. The sheer simplicity of this statement is what makes it more effective. A classic case of when less is more.

Working it back into what I had though about originally and it becomes clearer. I’ll be fitter than the average person my age, I’ll have the fitness level of a younger person, same for healthier and being more active. I can’t turn back the clock, but how I am as I get older is down to me. Physically and mentally I intend to live a younger life.

How young? I don’t see why I can’t be as fit, healthy and active as just about anyone 10 years younger than me. In fact looking around at people going about their daily business I’m already there for a large percentage.

So that’s the overall goal, clearly defined. Live a younger life. And big thanks to Drenched Fitness for having the expression in the first place for me to use.

These days there is an online community for anything and everything, fitness and health are no exceptions. I’ll periodically publish my thoughts on these organisations. The first one I ever found was Sparkpeople

images

You can find it here

According to Twitter it has 50k+ followers and a 126k+ followers on Google+. Overall it’s what looks like nice side of the fitness industry. Its full of bright colours and made up of people who cheer on your every success no matter how small. While it does have some sections about exercise the focus in mostly about weight reduction through diet. It has various challenges and lots of groups for different things.

Sign up and you will get daily emails full of general advice and recipes for low-calorie meals (e.g. 10 creative ways to use bagged greens’). Fitness advice like how to do an 11 minute cardio workout while sitting down. There is always the healthy thought of the day and an allegedly funny cartoon.

One feature is how you can get Spark Points for achievements. These are for just about anything and tend to be far more about trying than achieving. There are members blogs where the faithful can let you know how well they are doing and more commonly all the reasons behind the changes they are about to make to their lives. There are motivational comments aplenty. It’s really quite commendable, and yet… and yet… it drives me nuts!

Firstly, its loaded with adverts, it might be dressed up as a health and fitness community but it’s also a means of driving traffic to the adverts. I also find the people who contribute just too mumsy for me. A  large number of the community members seem to be overweight female middle-aged types just desperate to discuss their weight with each other and what they are planning to do about it. Less so what they are doing. Its like the Women’s Institute for diet and fitness. There are also lots of religious quotes given to people in the way of praise for doing well.  Or even just the ‘God bless’ routine for anything and everything. I know its meant well, but whenever they get together cheering for each other with the religious connotations I just wish someone would post ‘Fucking A, you nailed that motherfucker!’ Even if just for a bit of variety.

Perhaps I have got the wrong end of the stick, but it seems like so many of them are seriously obese. This isn’t where fit people go to talk about maintaining their fitness. It’s where really overweight people go to talk about what they are going to do to get fit and how they are doing really well because they walked to the bus stop today. In true Sparkpeople style that would have about 30 people saying how well the writer had done in making those first steps on their own to the bus stop. There are so many posts about ‘how this time its going to be different’ or about how their weight yo-yo’s all the time. Yet they then continue to do the same as last time and wonder why the results are the same too. There seems to be a lot of people talking about plans to change or how they have just started to change and far fewer saying ‘already good and keeping it that way’.

Overall Sparkpeople to me has a load of very genuinely unhappy people all trying to make changes while the people who operate the site must make a fortune in the advertising from the traffic. It’s hard for me not to be cynical about it. They must have their success stories, and they don’t promise anyone results, yet to me it still feels manipulative. There isn’t anything wrong in what they do, there are no lies or false promises. Instead its a community where a lot of unfortunate people can suffer/struggle together. That bit is fine with me, but someone is definitely making money out of them at the same time and that’s the bit that doesn’t sit so well.

Major plus point – feel good about yourself by being with others of a similar condition. The community spirit is one of support.

Down side – I suspect the success rates are poor. If you are serious about improving your fitness then this is not the place.

Marginal gains – all add up

Posted: January 15, 2014 in General, Musings

Recently I’ve been trying to identify what I can do to be a bit better at, well, life really. It sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? I’ve made some changes already in the past few years and I kind of like how they have worked out for me, so I’m still on the look out for any more I can find.

I’ve been marginally interested in the rise of Team Sky as a cycling team. I’m not a cyclist, but in the UK you can’t help but notice Team Sky due to their success and that they are British.  Being part of one of the UK’s largest media companies also helps with the promotion a tad too. For years Britain was never quite at the table of world-class cycling but in the past decade or so that’s changed. Suddenly we would appear to be the team to beat, or in most cases not beat. Lets see the stats:

Athens 2004 – 4 medals, 2 gold

Beijing 2008 – 14 medals, 8 golds

2011 World Championship – Mark Cavendish first British road racer since 1965 to win

2012 Tour de France – Bradley Wiggins first British winner

London 2012 – 12 medals, 8 golds

2013 Tour de France – Chris Froome 2nd ever British winner

These things don’t happen by accident and the person behind Team Sky is none other than the person who was in charge of the Olympic team, take a bow Sir Dave Brailsford.

His strategy, or at least what he’s making public, is about the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’. In short he looks at the detail and identifies where he can make small improvements, say 1%. He then carries the same strategy over as many areas as possible and these build up into a significant overall gain. One example I heard was he wanted Team Sky to sleep better, so he arranged for them to take the same mattresses with them when they moved around the Tour so the riders would have a more comfortable sleep at night. That way they would be less tired the following day. Just one small thing, but linked in with a bunch of others they add up. If you can improve 1% over 10 different areas, you’re looking at a 10% overall improvement.

Most people when looking at improving things in their life come up with really big ideas – I’m going to drop 3 stones, I’m going to find a new job, I’m going to buy a house, I’m going to do all of those etc. My amateur psychology outlook thinks these must be destined for failure in most cases simply because they are so daunting. Whereas if they focussed instead on losing two pounds, or focussed on updating their CV or decided to save a small amount each month – these just seem more doable and after the first couple of pounds are gone then decide to lose two more, the CV is ready well try sending out a few, got some money in the bank – keep saving and so on.

For me I need to decide what areas I can improve by one percent in. Once I’ve got those identified I can look at what I’m doing. Straight away it seems a less daunting task to improve my diet by 1% than to turn it upside down.

Find enough in the way of 1%’s and I’ll be able to total up to some significant changes. Wiggins here found enough to win Olympic Gold and the Tour de France! While its safe to say these pinnacles of performance may just (slightly!) be beyond what I can manage, it certainly makes me wonder about just how much I can achieve.

wiggins

What 1%s would you start with?

I guess there are many different reasons why people blog. But a significant one has to be ‘I want others to read my output’ – otherwise we’d just keep a notebook instead. Gaining followers and getting posts ‘liked’ isn’t the be all and end all, but I have to admit I was quite pleased when I got my first ‘like’ and my first ‘follower’.

However it’s when I look a bit closer at who these people are I start to question whether they have genuine interest in anything I might write or not:

storiesformuslimkids is now following Avoiding the Crisis – by the Mid-Life Male

Vincent Egoro liked your post on Avoiding the Crisis – by the Mid-Life Male

The post referred to was my last one featuring an image saying being fat wasn’t genetic – its down to being lazy. Yes, there was humour but it wasn’t exactly inspiring to the religious.

Neither of the above blogs have any interest in what I write, they ‘follow’ or ‘like’ me in the hope I’ll visit their site and do the right thing. You ‘followed’ me, so I’ll ‘follow’ you. Well, bollocks to that. If your site is about pushing religious rubbish served with a large dollop of morality then it doesn’t matter how often you ‘follow’ me or ‘like’ my posts I’m going to have nothing to do with promoting your site. “But Mr Male,” you may say, “by even mentioning these sites you are in fact promoting them, you have succumbed to their devious underhand marketing. You have fallen for their technique – you’re a sucker!” Up to a point I’d have to agree. But my defence will be examining these two sites and offering a critique of them (which bearing in mind how much they like me already, they will no doubt consider invaluable) will let me redress the balance a little. And after I’ve dealt with these two I won’t bother to mention any others. So onto exhibit A…

Storiesformuslimkids – Well, you have to hand it to them they don’t exactly try to hide what they are about. The title does tell the whole story. They have 1515 followers (as of now anyway – and I’m definitely not one of them). Simply put this is a site focussing on the nicer side of being a Muslim. Don’t judge others, be considerate etc. But mostly its down to ensuring the youth of today follow blindly the religious doctrine of the previous centuries. The site has bright colours, jokes (none of which are funny) and favourite religious quotes. I think my least favourite part was the motivational offering entitled ‘Dear Sister’ which depicts a girl being told how ‘we’ appreciate the difficulties of wearing a hijab and why we are so proud of her choice to do this and why its good and how Allah is proud of you and you’ll get your reward in the afterlife etc etc. Just cheap manipulation, nothing about why you have to wear it and why only women have to cover up etc. I searched for the Dear Brother equivalent where he can wear whatever he wants but couldn’t find it, wonder why. Pat on the back from your betters and don’t ask any questions. That’s a good girl. Perpetuate the myth that sexism is a good thing, move along nothing else to see. It’s just doctrine, nothing else and with no value to any one capable of thinking for themselves. Don’t waste your time on this site.

Vincent Egoro. Vincent hails from Nigeria and is offering the benefit of his wisdom in such key areas as Personal development, relationships and Motivation through Christ. A quick perusal of his site tells me Vincent is a pretty serious guy. He just loves offering advice and has a handy biblical reference or quote for any situation. If you were ever at a party Vincent is the last guy in the world you’d want to end up being stuck with. He advises us to count our blessings (sorry, I’d rather watch Fast & Furious 6 if you don’t mind), how we should make Xmas a habit (Sorry Vincent, that much turkey any more often than once a year would kill my waistline) and how we shouldn’t worry about anything as God will take care of it. I have to suggest to Vincent that when the roof needs repaired or the credit card bill arrives then God is somewhat MIA and instead its back to how the Lord helps those that help themselves. I’m sure Vincent means well, but having checked out his blog once its never going to get another look from me.

So no ‘likes’ and no ‘follows’ from me unless I actually like what you write and would be interested in reading your other opinions. If all you are trying to do is boost your own traffic by ‘liking’ something I have written in the hope that I will do the same for you, don’t bother – I won’t. Lets just agree to finish with, if you don’t waste my time I won’t waste yours.

Oh and one last thing, what I would give for a ‘dislike’ feature, that would be way more fun.