Category: Health

DIY Oil Spill Simulation

Croatia Oil SpillI’m currently looking for a contract (hint :) but today was not my normal day where I wake up, have a coffee, watch a bit of TV, then start looking for something… Because part of my start is checking out Social Media, where I came across this piece The only oil that goes with a Croatian bikini is olive! by teresafritschi via @JenniferSertl, one of the great global connectors. I’d encourage you to read the piece first, not only for the context of why I did this, but as to why you should be concerned that the oil industry and politicians will probably wreck the Adriatic in the next decade!

 

 

20101020 gulf oil spill mapNow to the graphic – how did I do it and what is it’s validity? In short, I used PowerPoint to strip out backgrounds and scale things correctly so I could transpose the BP Oil Spill graphic (from One-fifth of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna killed by BP oil spill) on to Google Maps. All you have to do is “go” to New Orleans and adjust the scale on your Google Map so it’s the same scale as as the graphic’s one:

 

BP Oil SpillOnce you have this, you can go to anywhere in the world (e.g. Croatia) and just underlay that graphic in to the sea – how do we do that?

First, you use a clever little feature that PowerPoint has called “Remove Background”. Firstly, you use it on the Oil Spill to remove the “Background”, which PPT thinks is the faintest part, so on that graphic it’s the map – Voila!

 

Oil Spill BackgroundNow you have that, set the transparent colour and you can rotate and transpose it to your hearts content so it fits under your map graphic

Croatia Oil Spill Underlay

There’s a bit of Art and Science in doing this – the key things I did for Croatia were align it with the coast and ‘reflect’ it so you have the same phenomena as on the top-right of the original Oil Spill because it’s in a sheltered area and so is the Adriatic. Just in case anyone questions this, I’ve been deliberately conservative as I actually think an oil spill could be even worse in the Adriatic as it’s effectively a confined space!

Croatia-TransparentOnce you have your underlay, how do you put it under the map? That’s where we go back to our friend from PPT, “Remove Background” – you’ll probably have to play about with it a bit this time (as the contrast between sea and land is not as obvious). You can now put together your final image as shown below by simply setting the layer order correctly.

All up, this probably took about an hour as it’s a bit of a fiddly process, but for a cause like Saving the Adriatic, it was well worthwhile.

Furthermore, if anyone’s drilling just off your coast, you can now do your own visualisation of what the impact may be on yourself and neighbouring countries ;-)

CroatiaLayers

Welcome 2015!

London Fireworks 2015M25 Carpark

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted much, mainly due to a contract which requires me to drive on the M20 and M25 (aka “the carpark” for those outside the UK) and as a result, I just don’t seem to of had the time and energy…

Javelin TrainOh, how I long for those lovely trains, and will never complain about a 30 or even 60 minute delay – the worst I’ve had in a car is a 1h trip taking 4h!!!

I look forward to getting on something where someone else is doing the driving so I can use my time effectively

Amazingly, it seems like only 7% (4.5 Million) people in the UK use public transport. Given that nearly 1/3 (22 Million) live in the South-East, where transport is generally pretty good, that seems pretty low. No surprise given the number of people on the motorways – I’ll be happy to take one more off them next contract.

So what’s up for 2015 for me and this blog?

For one, I plan to start getting back in to a bit more of a rhythm, both with my posts and the associated (play) work (generally outside “real work”), and I will continue to post based on my experiences – recent and past…

theme : ecologyWhat are the themes though? Here’s a list of where I’d like to go:

  • Lifestyle & Reviews
  • Process & People & ScramJet
  • Clojure
  • Architecture, including Enterprise & SOA aspects

in no particular order. I won’t get in to specifics as much of it is not yet planned, or I’m working on it but don’t want to reveal it until I have enough meat on the the bones so I can be sure it will fly.

teaserHere’s a few teasers though based on posts I know I’ll write or have in draft form:

  • Review of Bob Marshall’s “Thinking Different” happening last year
  • Review of the: BMW i3 electric car; Samsung Galaxy Alpha
  • Corporate Subversion – in a positive manner of course :-)

and that’s really just the “boring stuff” – there should be some very interesting posts coming as I hit my stride.

I hope you’ve all had a great XMas & New Year break and look forward to some great interactions in 2015!

Changearc – the thinking person’s RiczWest ;-)

Today I’m (@RiczWest) starting a new twitter account. It’s called ChangeArc. For those who follow me, you’ll recognise this as my “Blog Name” – so what’s the purpose?

Simple – when I started using Twitter, it was primarily as a bookmarking tool. To some extent I still use it as such, but also for so much more…

There’s one problem though – as I look at a lot of content, that means a lot of tweets, and not everyone likes that, including me! There are a number of great people I’d like to follow, but I can’t because they tweet too much.

To that end, I’m going to start a much lower volume (only a few tweets per day) account which is ChangeArc. So what can you expect apart from less tweets? Extremely high quality tweets that will include any posts I do.

I don’t know how this will evolve, but it will be interesting to see…

Who stole the American Dream?

Heist - Who stole the American DreamA while ago I watched a very disturbing documentary, Heist – Who stole the American Dream? on how an attack has been underway on the Free Enterprise system by some elite individuals (e.g. David Koch – can’t wait to see Citizen Koch when it comes out) and their Corporations.

Sounds like your average “nutter conspiracy theory”? Well, it might be if it wasn’t for the fact that the basis of all this, the “Powell Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System” (published 1972) is now widely available on the net from such as the Washington and Lee University School of Law Powell Archive after it was leaked.

In fact, here’s a link directly to the PDF / Scan of the original memorandum which was originally written by Lewis Powell (who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court) for Eugene B Sydnor Jr and the Chamber of Commerce. The end goal is as the film says “A Corporate Makeover of America”.

The film then goes on to outline how what we have today is an eerily “step by step” implementation of the Powell Memorandum. But – it’s not finished! There’s more to come, but I’ll let the film outline that…

If you’re at all an independent thinker and not part of the top 0.0…01% then here’s a few very disturbing facts:

  • US Corporations currently have US$1.5T in offshore accounts as they’re only paying an average of 13% Tax, with many of the largest such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and GE paying none or even getting rebates!
  • Due to the crash:
    • US$10T in Housing Wealth was lost
    • 10M Families lost homes to foreclosure and 11M more are “underwater”
    • 10M Workers lost jobs
  • As a result, there are now 47M (or about 15%) Americans living in poverty

If you’re interested finding out more outside of the film, here’s a great analysis The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto) from reclaim democracy and Google will give you a heap of information.

Lightning Autumn / Winter, Hiking / Walking Boot Review

nikeIt looks like this week will probably be the last “warm” weekend for this year in the UK. We can’t complain though as it’s been a reasonable length summer.

Last week though I noticed a bit extra moisture on the grass and in the soil, i.e. some of it is starting to get rather soft. Not really ideal for the Nikes (left) that I bought at the beginning of Summer when I started walking again.

They’ve been good, but after a recent walk I returned with soggy socks, which isn’t that bad now, but in a months time will not be pleasant…

Asics Gel-Arata G-TXSo it was off to the local designer outlet to see what was on offer. By total co-incidence, the first store we went to was Asics who only really had one shoe, the Asics Gel Arata G-TX*, but it fitted! As my feet are quite wide for their length, I’m always having problems finding shoes that fit, so when I tried these on, that was it!

I had to try out these “new toys” and so went on a walk. I wasn’t planning on much over 1/2h as with a new pair of shoes (like the Nikes) that’s all you can do the first time.

To Asics Gel-Arata G-TX Soulmy surprise though, after a few adjustments they felt “OK” and after 1/2h they were feeling fine so I ended up doing my usual 1 1/4h walk and feeling like I could of gone on more.

As you can see from the soul, these are serious walking shoes – while going around paddocks I felt like I owned the track (UK people will know what I mean :) as the souls were very solid and supportive. Furthermore, when I returned, thanks to the Goretex and rubber front on these shoes my feet were totally dry.

Conclusion

If you have wide feet, these should fit you nicely as they’re quite adjustable. You could easily use them for serious hiking in any season except winter (where you really need some boots). As for walking or even “country running” they’d be fine in any season although probably a bit warm in summer.

Overall, it’s easy to recommend these as a great overall shoe for most sorts of walking and “country running”. If you do a google, you’ll find that these rank between 4-4.5/5 Stars, so I think they’re definitely worth considering if you’re after this type of shoe.


* Note: These are not current stock on the Asics site, but are available through Amazon and other sites. For some reason the current Asics site does not have anything like this, which is a bit of a pity as this type of shoe / boot (shoot? ;) is ideal for walking and hiking in English coutryside and I’d quite happily use it in Australia which means it’s fine almost anywhere…

Finished Rebooting

Finished RebootAs I blogged about a bit over a month ago, I started a Juice Reboot. A few weeks ago I decided to finish it, just because I felt like eating again, which means that I did a reboot for 3 weeks. This wasn’t due to any “bad stuff” / withdrawal symptoms as you get past those is the first week or so. It just felt right.

I’d originally targeted 1-2 months, so am I disappointed? Absolutely no way! I achieved what I wanted which was to lose a bit of weight – I don’t know how much as I’m not in to weighing myself*, but I can say that I can fit in to t-shirts, shirts and Jackets I couldn’t fit in to a month ago… Way more important than that though, is I feel like I have rebooted my metabolism and have certainly rebooted my “food habits”. I no longer crave for carbohydrates or overeat – I’m probably eating around 1/2 of what I used to eat as I’m still having a few juices per day and will continue to as they’re just so yummy and healthy :-) Even better, the food I’m eating is better quality and contains a lot more raw vegetables – Salads Rule! I will still be eating meat though, but again it will be better quality and way less – i.e. a few times a week rather than per day.

So overall, how will I change my diet / lifestyle?…

  • Banksy - Street Art - Lifestyle Out of StockI’ve never been in to breakfasts, but I’ll start the day with a fresh fruit juice – it gives you a whole bunch of fruit sugars to attack the day with and keeps you pretty full, especially if you put a banana in it
  • No more coffee – that was probably my one last “addiction”. Now, I just don’t need it. I’m sure I’ll have a nice one occasionally, but no longer regularly
  • Lunch may sometimes be a juice, but more likely to be a salad, sometimes with some sort of meat or fish mixed in (in Thai cuisine this is quite common)
  • Dinner may be a juice, but probably just a “snack” – a bit like some European cultures where it’s not a meal, but some meats, cheeses and in our case fresh vegetables
  • Minimum carbs – we’re having the same meals we used to, just without any pasta, potatoes etc… If I do have bread then it’s some sort of sourdough and very rarely
  • I’ve cut down drinking alcohol. The UK is well know for it’s drinking culture, as is Australia so up until now that’s been quite “natural” for me. Gone now is the regular drink with a meal, especially during the week. I’ve also discovered that it’s possible to go out with colleagues and not drink (i.e. just Juice or Soda Water+Lemon) after you get the obligatory ribbing ;-)
  • Exercise – I’d stopped exercising seriously many years ago and pushed on by the weight loss, have decided to start exercising regularly, mostly by walking which I’ll probably do a post on as it’s easy to take up excising if your reasonably skinny, but if you are overweight (which I still am – just less than before :) then you really need to ease yourself back in to things.

Antique cash registerI think this is really a microcosm of our consumerist society and it’s approach to buying as much or even more than you need and consuming it just because you can! I think there’s also an element of “comfort eating” (I know there was with me) due to stress. I’m sure most of us don’t do this consciously, but I’ve come to realise that this is a message that is programmed in to us from so many angles and via so many channels** that it’s very easy to fall in to the trap – not for this little duck any more…

person underwater at deskOh yeah – you may be wondering why I’m blogging about this, especially since this blog is mostly about software and architecture…

Simple – I think I’m a pretty typical example of someone in their 40’s who works in a passive job and really just let things get out of control. At one point I knew things were bad but just never got around to doing anything about it. Finally, spurred on by a documentary as I blogged about earlier, I decided to do something about it and have now started some new behaviors. So in that vein, to be a bit cliched about it, if any of these posts somehow inspire even one person to eat more healthily, lose a bit of weight or get a bit fitter, then they’ve done their job :-)


* Much research shows that you should set quantitative goals. For me, especially at my weight, it’s pretty obvious if I’ve lost weight and I didn’t want to get caught up in a whole reward / punishment cycle as to whether I’ve met some quota. It’s working for me, but others may want to use different methods… Furthermore, I reserve the right to change strategy on the fly as needed ;-)

** When you’re fasting for weeks – boy, do you notice the food and drink ads and that there are so many of them!

Starting a Reboot

Start RebootFollowing on from my previous post of Time for a Reboot, as it’s been a week since I started I thought I’d jot down a few notes on my experiences and some more links to resources

I’m assuming that you’ve watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead or have the basic information contained in that and therefore think that a Juice Reboot is interesting…

Before I get in to my experience it should be mentioned that you have to be “healthy” to do this. Also, you shouldn’t be doing it if you’re diabetic or have a yeast type infection or any type of temporary sickness or permanent medical condition without consulting a doctor.

My Experience

Although we didn’t do a “juice prep”, which is quite often made up of a week or so with a raw food or near vegetarian type of diet, we did simplify and minimise our diets during the previous week on holiday.

Actually starting is easy – just juice! The tricky bit is to keep juicing and not “fall off the wagon”.  If you do need a “snack”, try  something like a berry, grape or two so you get the sensation of eating, don’t beat yourself up about it and just keep going with your reboot. During the first few days we both got mild headaches sporadically throughout the day – I’ve since read this is due to the spikes in (natural) sugar levels in your body which come with the juices. I also found my energy levels all over the place, feeling great one hour and like snoozing the next (which I did :). Finally, I also got some joint pain that is due to the toxins working their way through or out of that area of your body.

This brings me on to another point – I started this during a break between contracts. I’m not really sure how you could get past at least the first few days and be working, so if you’re really serious about this like me (i.e. aiming for 30+ days) then I’d recommend to take a week off so you can ease in to this. It may sound strange, but when you consider that you really are rebooting your body and it’s systems I’d say it’s a small price to pay.

You don’t have to do 30+ days though. If you want, you can do anything from 3 days upwards. The basic plan is always the same: prepare (vegetarian/raw foods), do and readjust (vegetarian/raw foods). After even a few days of juicing I realised I’d been eating so much crap and that whatever happens I’m going to radically increase the amount of fresh or juiced vegetables or fruit in my diet and decrease the amount of junky carbohydrates and low quality meats, fish etc…

In some ways, I found the experience similar to giving up smoking as you are giving up your addiction to fat, carbohydrates and whatever other “bad things” you’ve been eating.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I won’t be blogging on this much more, except for a post at the end talking about how it all went. Hopefully this has helped you work out if this is of interest to you. If you do decide on any form of Juice Reboot, remember that if for any reason you stop it, you can always do another time when it’s more convenient.

FAQs

What Juicer do we use? Just a generic “high power” 2-speed juicer. If you search for “Powerful Professional 990W Whole Fruit Vegetable Juicer Extractor” you’ll get a good list from Amazon or eBay and you should only pay around £40-50.

Where do we get our fruit and vegetables? In the UK, a combination of Abel and Cole, who have a good range of juicing ingredients and organic from local supermarkets to fill the gaps in the A&C order.

How much does it cost? About £15-20 per person per day. That may sound pretty expensive, but how much of a cost do you want to put on your health?

Resources

The best starting point is Reboot with Joe that is a great follow on for the film and wealth of resources, FAQs, recipes and much more information

Other great starting resources are Juicing Basics from http://juicing-for-health.com and this great “Juicing Mistakes” video: