Author Archives: Mark J Daniels

Getting Fit will leave me Hungry, Injured and Broke

Let’s get one thing straight right at the start – I am not what anybody would ever consider ‘obese’ nor am I lazy.

However, in the thirteen months since we sold our pub, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that a ‘less active’ lifestyle (read: more desk-based-staring-at-a-computer-screen rather than running-around-a-pub-being-bottle-washer-plumber-decorator-drayman-manager-and-barman) has lead to a little filling out around the edges.

While I might never have possessed a six-pack, I am definitely in the process of creating a barrel. Getting On My Bike*tweet this*

And, after a rather shameful visit to the scales recently, I’ve decided to improve my fitness; I’m not talking about obsessing about my weight on a daily basis or the fact that my naval is getting deeper, I’m not about to peel on the Spandex but this new lifestyle approach has left me somewhat concerned – while I might lose weight, everything else is clearly going to go horribly wrong.

The first thing is the food. I’m eating breakfast, lunch and dinner (something I’ve not normally done in the past; my consumption of food has been erratic of late and included an awful lot of Haribo) and the meals that are on the plate are wholesome and full of green things apparently known as vegetables. And yet I am constantly hungry.

I don’t just mean I’m craving a nibble, I mean proper, growling stomach hungry.


I’ve only been doing this since Monday; as I write it’s Wednesday evening, and I feel as if I haven’t eaten all week.

The second thing that’s bothering me is exercise. I’m not adverse to exercise and I enjoy riding my bike. Again, this isn’t something I’ve spent as much time doing recently; where once I used to ride up to 100 miles in a week, these last few months I’ve barely ridden ten. In total.

But last night I went for a run for the first time since, well, birth. I have watched people running before and wondered why they put themselves through it, but last night I decided to have a go and it hurt. There was proper pain. And I didn’t actually run that far.

I also look like a fool when I run, with my arms seemingly unable to keep themselves within a sensible, coordinated orbit of my waistline. I resembled a mash-up of Mr Greedy and Mr Tickle.

Finally, there’s my wallet. There is a gamut of products on the market that claim to help you get fit and healthy by measuring your heart rate and your physical activity and a plethora of apps that you can put on your smartphone to monitor your calorific intake and report back on your various exercises.

And, as I like shiny gadgets, I have to have them all; I’m just waiting for my Jawbone Up to be delivered and I’ll be all set. And broke.

So here we go. I’m in the first few days of a newer, healthier me. I’m not going to be a saint – there is a bottle of red wine waiting for me at the end of the week – but I am going to be a lot more conscious of my food and my sedentary lifestyle.

But so far, all it seems to be going to do is leave me hungry, aching and broke. *tweet this*

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I Lasted Two Minutes (with Swing Copter)

I missed out on the Flappy Birds phenomenon. By the time I’d heard about it, creator Dong (don’t snigger) Nguyen had got so frustrated with earning $50000 a day that he pulled it from the mobile app stores and turned down millions from corporates desperate to buy the rights to the game.

Now he’s released a new game. When my teenager told me about Swing Copter I decided I wouldn’t miss out and immediately installed it on my phone.

Two minutes later I threw the phone through my living room window. Then went outside and jumped on it to make sure it was dead.

What a ridiculously irritating game. Games should be challenging, they should be tough. They shouldn’t be flipping impossible.

If Flappy Birds was anything like this, I’m glad I missed it.

Swing Copter


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Amazon Knows I’ve Been Searching For Kayaks

The beauty of the Internet in 2014 is that it knows what I’m looking for and makes it as easy as possible for me to find it.

Search engines are now much more intuitive than ever before and retail sites look to offer you the best deal they can find. But is it possible that Amazon might have become just a touch… over-zealous? (tweet this comment)

I’ve been searching for kayaks online. This is fine, I want to buy a kayak. Amazon has a lot of inflatable options available and I’ve been trying to decide what type of kayak is best for me. Amazon wants to tell me about theirs. This is fine.

But check out this screen shot of The Register, which I visited just a few moments ago. Perhaps Amazon are trying too hard…

Did you know Amazon sell Kayaks

The Register article above relates to Twitter’s recent decision to make their Analytics service available to all. I wrote about this yesterday on my Inapub blog; click here for more information.

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Does Hamilton Really Speak The Truth?

Mark J Daniels:

It’s very clear that NICO Romberg is being set up to take over from Michael Schumacher as the Dick Dastardly of Formula 1. But before you fully cast him in this role, don’t forget that Lewis Hamilton isn’t the innocent lad he always tries to make himself out to be.

Have a read of The Front Jackman’s blog, below…

Originally posted on The Front Jack Man :

Over the last 24 hours Mercedes AMG F1 has moved from choppy waters to a hurricane, through the fault of their two drivers and their inability to control themselves on the track, and in the case of Lewis Hamilton, in the Press.

Hamilton has been very vocal all season about Rosberg, claiming he (Hamilton) ‘Never wanted it easy’ and that the year will be difficult every so often. However, since Hungary, a competitive rivalry has descended into a personal one. There were instances of argument in previous races never anything as heated as what we saw in the aftermath, with a possible exception of Monaco. But it has never descended into the chaos that it has now. And the fault of that lies mostly at the feet of Lewis.

The reason for this is simple. Whilst it was Nico’s fault that Lewis ended up with the puncture, what he said…

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Sixteen Year Old Gets Formula 1 Drive

“It is now more dangerous to ride a bike through a big city than it is to drive a Formula 1 car…” Max Verstappen.

This week, the news broke that Max Verstappen, son of former Formula 1 driver Jos, will be driving in Formula 1 next year for the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso.

Click here to read the BBC story

Click here to read the BBC story

That in itself isn’t necessarily news. New drivers come along each year, some go on to do amazing things (Sebastien Vettel won his first race in a Toro Rosso before going on to win four World Championships (so far) with Red Bull; Daniel Ricciardo moved up to the reigning world champion team this year and is so far the only driver to properly take the fight to the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg) but the big news about Verstappen is his age.

Right now, he’s only sixteen.

By the time the season starts next year, he’ll be seventeen.

The previous youngest driver to ever get behind the wheel of an F1 car was Jaime Alguersuari in 2009, who was 19 at the time. And this year, Daniil Kvyat, also 19, became the youngest ever driver to score world championship points.

The connection between these two is that they both started out their F1 careers with Torro Rosso, as will Verstappen.

The media and public are, of course, split. Some say it’s a fantastic thing for Verstappen – and it is! Don’t get me wrong; what 16 year old wouldn’t be ecstatic to be handed such an opportunity on a plate? It generates fantastic media for a sport that is often very good at shooting itself in the foot and it will give other teenagers the boost they so desperately need to prove they can make it in top flight motorsport.

The other point of view is that he’s too young, and so often we see young drivers come and go from Formula 1, used up and spat out by a machine that craves publicity and sponsorship dollars. Alguersuari, above, had departed his F1 career by the end of 2011.

But there is another way to look at this and, sadly, it’s the terrible reality of the situation.

The recruitment of Max Verstappen, at age sixteen, to drive a Formula 1 car unfortunately says less about his ability as a driver and more about how dumbed-down Formula 1 has become.

The FIA and team bosses have been hankering left right and centre this year for a way to ‘improve the show'; audience figures continue to decline and this takes with it the revenue the sport so craves.

In its heyday, Formula 1’s fans looked forward to crashes, engines blowing up, tyres exploding and while the FIA has done a fantastic job in saving drivers’ lives, the spectacle of the show has been diluted by the need to reduce costs and save money.

There was a time when no matter how well a driver had done, there was no guarantee of him finishing the race. History is littered with drivers not quite making it to the finishing line because a tyre exploded or the engine imploded on the final lap. Just look at Mika Hakkinen in Spain in 2001:

The need for reliability and austerity has taken away these uncertainties and thwarted the spectacle that Formula 1 once was.

The worst thing that can happen in a pit-stop now is that a driver can be released in to the path of another car; with the absence of fuel stops there’s little chance of anything worse than a wheel gun operator breaking a nail as a car exits his slot and occasionally a wheel nut won’t get attached properly.

Gone are the days of fuel hoses snaking off down the pitlane behind its charge or a hose not being able to connect to dispense fuel and, from time to time, the belch of flame when the fuel ignites. See Max’s dad in 1994…

I’m not suggesting, of course, that we return to the days of men dying every week and maybe I’m being too flippant – accidents do still happen, some with terrible consequences, but unreliability and uncertainty bred intrigue, not the fact that a driver has to push a button to open a flap on the back wing at certain points on a track if he’s within a second of the car in front to help him overtake (or sometimes defend from) another driver. Or pushing another button to engage a boost of electrical energy via a KERS system.

Formula 1 was once the pinnacle of motorsport. It bred heroes and gladiators and the cars were notoriously difficult to drive. No mere mortal could ever hope to get one started or to hold their neck up straight after a few corners. Drivers from lesser formulae would drive a Formula 1 car and marvel at its braking power and the grip it had in a corner.

Now, they have to worry about lifting off and coasting in order to conserve fuel rather than fighting to use every last drop in a battle to reach the finish line.

But perhaps the most damning evidence of Formula 1’s plight comes, ironically, from its newest, and youngest, driver: “it is more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car,” says sixteen year old Max Verstappen.

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Heading For Open Water…

Ever since I was a child I’ve enjoyed travelling by boat; I’ve holidayed on river craft and hired day boats many times in the past, but this weekend I got the opportunity to get to the helm of something a little larger…

ArriviHeading out to open at Wolverstone Marina with my dad, we met up with a his long standing friend David and enjoyed a couple of days aboard the Scotch Mist.

The weather was looking as if it would be against us and we might not get out, but a break in the weather did allow us to get out on to the River Orwell for a bit and head towards open seas.

As we reach the junction with the River Stour, Orwell and the ocean, the swell became quite strong and we opted to cruise back up choppy waters to the marina, but a fantastic hour and a half was spent on water I’ve never travelled on at the helm of a boat much bigger than anything I’ve piloted before – a 34 foot Sealine craft.

Evasive action needed to avoid the tugs and their container vessell...We also came across a large container vessel at Harwich that was being pulled out to see by two tugboats – it was fascinating being able to watch the way these ships worked together, a process a lot of people don’t get to see simply because of not being able to be out on the water when it happens in a craft that you’re in control of and therefore able to effectively stop, sit back and watch the action.

So a great weekend had – click on either picture to be taken to the full Google Photo album.



Last Night, I Had A Dream

No red wine or late night cheese was consumed in the making of this dream (mostly because cheese is wrong so I wouldn’t eat it anyway) so, Dream Analysts, why did I dream this?

Last night, I dreamed I was canoeing on the River Lark, when a platoon of soldiers emerged from the water and all aimed their rifles at me.

I capsized the canoe and escaped under the cover of water to the river bank, where I rescued a random pretty blonde and took her back to my car.

Her boyfriend didn’t seem too pleased about this so we roared off in my car and he gave chase.

When he couldn’t keep up in his Transit van, he converted it into a fighter jet and started firing missiles at us.

I have been wide awake since 4a.m….

Formula 1: to fix the spectacle, stop meddling with it

Bernie Ecclestone has recently called together a working group to look in to the growing decline in television audiences for Formula 1 and to establish why the sport is losing popularity. The working group, which includes team members, journalists and the exiled Flavio Briatore, will aim to establish what is wrong and what changes can be made to improve the spectacle.

But here’s the thing – no changes need to be made.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix: rain before the race left the track slippery and the prospect of more rain had strategists wracking their brains to understand which tyres should be on the cars at their next stops, Lewis Hamilton was starting from the pit-lane with the sole mission of beating his team-mate, and Sebastian Vettel figured he was in with a good shout for the win.

The team that got the tyre strategy most wrong was McLaren. A safety car caught the leaders out, leaving no time for them to dive in to the pits to change tyres but Button, along with much of the rest of the pack, came in and found himself fitted with another set of intermediate wet tyres while the rest of the field were switching to slicks.

Returning to the track the Briton found himself in second place but questioned the tyre tactic. Confidently, the team told him that more rain was due but as the field followed the safety car round, Button’s concerns grew as a drying track lay ahead of him.

When the safety car came in Button was able to quickly despatch the Red Bull ahead of him, which was on dry tyres, as the McLaren’s wet tyres worked better on the still-damp track.

But within a few laps a call on the radio from the team confirmed Button’s fears: no more rain was due and the track was drying. He had to change tyres, a decision which took him from first to eighteenth in twenty-five seconds.

Mayhem and melee continued, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leading for much of the race. The tantalising prospect of a Ferrari win lay ahead of us as Vettel pirouted on the damp final corner and car after car slipped and slithered off the track until, in the last three laps, Alonso’s tyres gave up.

Ricciardo, who had managed to get past the unbelievably second-placed Hamilton, bore down on the Spaniard who, struggling for grip, found himself easy meat for the Australian, who went on to win.

It was a true race and proved, if nothing else, that Formula 1 isn’t boring. But here’s why Ecclestone doesn’t need a working group to decide what’s wrong with the show. He just needs to tell the stewards to keep their noses out.

Despite the variety of incidents the stewards didn’t penalise Button for an unsafe pitlane release, Alonso wasn’t punished for gaining an advantage after cutting a corner, Hamilton wasn’t criticised for being firm with his team mate, pushing him wide to prevent him overtaking. Perez and team-mate Hulkenberg didn’t find them on the end of a post-race review with the stewards for their coming together.

Everything was deemed a fact of racing, and the show was all the better for it.

What lets Formula 1 down at the moment and is putting off fans is how often the race is manipulated by the powers that be, how results are changed for the most minor of infractions.

Let the drivers do their jobs, let the teams do theirs, and the quality of the show will improve immensely.

Britain Started Monitoring Sea Temperatures Seven Years Ago

We’re off to Cornwall soon, for a sport of family camping, and the wonderful news is that, according to this article in the Independent, sea temperatures in Cornwall are currently higher than those in California.

Which is fantastic. But also, incredibly, Britain only started monitoring sea temperatures seven years ago. For those of us with a skeptical eye for anything to do with Global Warming, an “all-time-high” based on just seven years of sea temperature data seems a little premature to me…

Independent Sea Temperatures

The End of an Era… #schoolsoutforsummer

Today marks the end of an era: my youngest son leaves primary school for the last time, heading up to secondary school in September.

Meanwhile, let six weeks of sibling rivalry commence.

Jacob Leaves School


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