Yesterday, I was surprised to find that it is still only five weeks since I went under the knife – it seems so much longer. I confess I am now becoming somewhat impatient to get back to full health and strength.
The chest pains during the night are not getting any better – in fact they seem to be getting worse – and when I wake in the morning the pain is quite considerable.
But once I am up and about, the pain subsides and I am able to go about my daily business without too much discomfort, although it does tend to return to a lesser extent in the late afternoon and evenings. My blood pressure is still stubbornly high and that also gives me cause for concern, but I guess I must be patient and let everything take its natural course.
I read on the net that one guy still had rib pains almost a year after surgery, so I’m hoping I will do a bit better than that.
My walks are getting longer and quicker every day, and I am now usually out for almost an hour, including the last 10 minutes or so with the dogs which always wraps up the day’s outing.
My aim is to start gentle jogging next month – maybe 5 minutes walking, followed by a minute’s jog, then another 5 minutes’ walk, and so on. That’s how I started some 12 years ago, so I’m hoping it’ll work again.
I’m not sure whether my limbs – especially my knees – will stand up to all this, but as you will see below, I am also looking to diversify my exercising activities into cycling, and on top of that, for the past week or so, as soon as I complete my daily walks, I have cooled off in the pool and done a bit of gentle swimming for 10 minutes or so.
In summary, I am working slowly towards a Mobi-style triathlon!
‘A Bicycle Made For Two’
Noo- ja! Noo- ja!,
Why have you been so true?
Mob’s half crazy,
All for the love of you!
There’ll never be a marriage
Nor a ‘Roller’ carriage
But you look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle made for two.
Yes, folks I am now the proud owner of a very smart tandem, (pictured above), which I am hoping will provide much entertainment and not a little exercise in the coming weeks and months.
I first started to seek out a tandem a few weeks ago, but drew blanks at several local bike shops before coming across one that said they could order one which would be delivered in 3 days, at a price of 12,500 Baht. It seemed a reasonable price, but when I went back a couple of days later to confirm the order, they told me that their supplier no longer had any tandems for sale, and they had no idea when a new stock would arrive!
Not to be outdone, I checked the internet where I was aghast to find that prices started at over 20,000 and went up as high as 40,000 Baht. I downloaded a list of nationwide bicycle dealers and Noo started phoning all over the country; eventually a dealer in Sri Racha told her, yes, he had one new tandem in his shop at a price of 10,000 Baht.
In the meantime, we learned of a street stall just outside Pattaya that sold 2nd hand bikes and we found a couple of brightly painted tandems there for 8,000 Baht. But these were the type that you see rented out to tourists in the resorts, quite heavy and no gears, so we decided to check out the new one in Sri Racha, to see how it compared with the second hand ones.
We weren’t disappointed – it really was a nice machine – aluminium frame and a more gears than I’ve got years left on this earth. It had obviously been at the back of the shop for years, as it was covered in dust and the tyres were flat, but definitely brand new. I reckon at 10,000 Baht, I got a real bargain.
One of the more endearing features of shopping in Thailand is that many stores rarely raise the price of stock that they and have been holding onto for donkey’s years have been unable to sell. This by no means the first time that I have bought something, covered in several years of dust, at a very low price. They don’t reduce it to sell off old stock, they just wait for inflation to do its work and the original price to become a bargain. Strange, but true.
We loaded it in the back of the Mobi-Mitsu, and as soon as we got it home, Noo and I gave it a little ‘test ride’ around the estate. At first, Noo was terrified, but after a couple of minutes, she started to trust my steering and balancing prowess, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our first experience on a tandem, with the gears making everything so easy.
Of course Noo and her son absolutely love it and they have already travelled long distances on it around the lake which has attracted many fascinated and envious stares by the local populace. What’s the betting we have started a tandem craze?
With regret, I have bowed to the advice that it may not be very sensible to embark on my cycling career before my rib cage has healed, as it would only take one nasty fall to put me back in hospital. So I think I will wait a few more weeks before getting back in the saddle.
You Couldn’t Make it Up, Could you?
I’m always writing about various things that happen in this crazy world of ours, which are sometimes so ‘off the wall’ that although true, I often finish the piece by making the comment that ‘You couldn’t make it up, could you?
Well, I might turn such stories into a regular feature, and here’s a few to get the ball rolling.
Phoenix Pastor Jailed for holding a Home Prayer Group
Most of you will be aware of my atheistic leanings, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that everyone has the right in this world to practise their religion as they see fit, without fear or hindrance from others, provide always, that such practises don’t impinge on the safety, well-being and lives of fellow citizens, who don’t happen to share their beliefs.
To be honest, I hate all ORGANISED religions with a purple passion as I have yet to find a single ORGANISED religion – be it Christian, Judaism, Islam, Buddhist, Hindi or whatever – that isn’t run by people who are far more interested in money and power than the original precepts that first brought the people of that belief together.
But I confess to being quite shocked that in this day and age, to learn that in a country which boasts to be a bastion of freedom and democracy to the rest of the world, that Michael Salman, a Phoenix pastor, was recently sentenced to 60-days in jail for holding prayer meetings on his private property, and is now in jail.
Michael Salman’s apparent “crime” was holding private prayer sessions without conforming to commercial code. Officials claim that his Sunday gatherings are ‘public’, even though there is no evidence any member of the public has been allowed into the study group.
Salman says that only his family and friends join in his prayer group in a building on his property, but the atheist City officials have stated that “Bible study use requires a change of occupancy,” and that they must create handicapped parking and build handicapped bathrooms. None of Salman’s family and friends are handicapped and require those accommodations.
Can you believe that there was a police raid, and the pastor was arrested and hauled away like a common criminal?
So its okay to invite your entire neighbourhood to a pool party or a barbeque, its okay to invite the rich and famous to your house for a political fund raising event, but woe betide anyone who wishes to indulge in a little bible study with friends and family – if you don’t apply for a commercial licence and spend thousands on handicapped facilities, you might have to suffer a couple of months in the poky and end up with a criminal record.
I mean… is that all the City officials and the Phoenix Police department have to worry about in these troubled times?
Compassionate leave for the death of a pet?
I may be an atheist, but I am also an animal lover. I have much sympathy with the Buddhist standpoint that we should be kind to all living creatures and avoid killing and harming them whenever possible. But Darwin’s ‘survival of the species’ will always rule, and homo sapiens, being carnivorous by nature and design, will always kill other animals in order to eat and survive. But there is a time and a place for this and these days, in most western countries, animals bred for slaughter are, by and large – treated as humanely as possible.
Much as I admire the Buddhist precepts, I am frankly appalled by the often callous disregard for the welfare of animals in Thailand, and the unspeakable cruelty that is perpetrated on so many species – from the gentle Elephants, to the cats and dogs that we keep in our houses and yards. Thais routinely inflict cruelty on so-called domesticated pets, which is then mimicked by their children, and so the cycle of cruelty is perpetuated onto a new generation.
So much for ‘organised religion’.
But I digress…
Recently, a serious public debate was started in the UK when an employment tribunal ruled that the Royal Mail has had to pay one of its employees an undisclosed amount for firing an employee who had taken a week off work following the death of his dog.
The tribunal ruled the employee had been off for legitimate reasons and that Royal Mail had failed to understand and apply its own policy. It also found that the company had been too inflexible in its interpretation of events.
Recent research reveals that grieving pet owners collectively take eight million “sick” days off a year to get over the death of their animals. Just over half of the UK’s 14.5million pet owners said they would need between two and five days off work to grieve for their pet, while 10 per cent said they would need as much as two weeks, according to insurer Direct Line.
Only one in five pet owners thought they would need more time off work to come to terms with the loss of a family member or close friend.
The group estimates that grieving owners cost UK businesses around £127million-a-year in sick pay during the time they take off when their pet dies.
But 79 per cent of people admitted they did not think their boss would be sympathetic, and the only way they could get time off work was by lying, usually pretending to be ill.
The pet business manager of Direct Line insurance company said: “Losing a pet can be a very emotional time and can often leave a huge void in many pet owners’ lives.
“The death of a pet is more difficult to deal with than that of a relative or family friend as pet owners often find there is a lack of understanding, sympathy or empathy from family, friends or co-workers.”
He said as a result of this, the Insurance company has set up a 24-hour bereavement helpline to help policyholders come to terms with the loss of their pet.
He said: “These callers need a great deal of understanding and compassion shown to them and often call back on more than one occasion, even many weeks after their loss.”
You can just imagine it.
‘Hello, is that the pet bereavement counsellor?’
‘Yes sir, have you suffered a recent loss?’
‘Yes, I’m just distraught over the demise of my darling Feddie.’
And may I enquire what kind of animal Fredddie was? A cat? Or a dog, maybe?’
‘No, he was my pet toad.’
‘Toad, did you say a toad?
‘Yes, Freddie was a lovely, slimy little toad. He was so pretty and loving. I kept him in his own little box in my sitting room, and now he’s passed on – gone to the next world.’
‘Oh you poor man, how terrible. May I ask how he died?’
‘It was my baby son, little Joe, he crawled over to the box yesterday , picked up Freddie and swallowed him.’
‘Dear oh dear, what on earth happened to little Joe, aren’t toads poisonous?’
‘Never mind about him, he’s down the hospital on a life support machine being looked after by his mother and the doctors. But there’s nobody left to take care of me and comfort me for the loss of my toad. Do you think my boss will give me some time off work to grieve over my beloved Freddie?’
I listened to a recent ‘phone in’ programme on BBC Radio2, in which caller after caller stated how traumatised they had been by the recent death of a pet, and how necessary it was to be given paid leave in order to grieve. I got the distinct impression that although the well-respected presenter, Jeremy Vine, played the segment with utter seriousness, it was only with difficulty that he succeeded in keeping a straight face as these animal-loving nutters tried to convince him that the death of pets is more traumatic than the death of close family members.
I have always loved pets and since I was very young I have had cats, and dogs which I loved to bits and, like all pet owners, have been very upset when they died.
Right now, my life would be much the poorer without my beloved dogs: Somchai, Yoghurt and Cookie. They are truly part of the family, have free access to the house and even come to sleep with us of a night!
If one of them were to die – as they all will one day – it will almost be like losing a member if the family – but I emphasise the word almost. When all is said and done, they are DOGS – ANIMALS – not human beings!
Sure, I will almost certainly shed a tear or two and I will be sad for a day or so. But that will be it. Whilst never forgetting them – I still remember my first ever family cat, Dusty, who I adored as a young child – I will it get over it and life will go on.
Never in my wildest dreams would I consider taking time off work to grieve the death of a pet – in fact the opposite would be the case – get stuck into work to take my mind off it all.
I mean…come on… you couldn’t…..or could you?
Is That a Missile System I see on Your Roof?
The government plans to install surface-to-air missiles on top of an apartment complex in East London – The Fred Wigg Tower Block- in the coming days to counter the potential of an airborne terrorist attack during the Olympic Games.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed its plans to install Rapier and high-velocity missile systems on top of Fred Wigg and five other sites throughout the capital. Rapiers can shoot down a Boeing 747 in the event terrorists hijack a plane and attempt to steer it into a venue.
For some unaccountable reason, the thought of living beneath a missile launch pad from mid-July until the end of the Olympics doesn’t sit well with the residents of buildings that will soon be crowned with missile installations.
Apparently, tenants are worried that they’ll become collateral damage in the event of a terrorist attack and that a missile response will send shrapnel flying into their apartments.
Oh ye of little faith… wherever did you get an idea like that?
Undaunted, residents launched a legal appeal and staged a protest march on June 30 against government plans, and in one of the most reproduced images of the protest, an elderly woman holds a sign that says:
“No missiles on homes! No snipers on schools! No guns on streets!”
Other signs simply read, “No missiles in our community”
And, “This is not a war zone.”
But on July 10, a high-court judge rejected those claims, giving the government the all-clear to proceed. When delivering his verdict, the Judge suggested that the residents were not at risk and instead were “under something of a misapprehension” about the equipment.
Hmm… I wonder if the learned judge would care to rent a room at the Fred Wigg Tower Block for the duration of the games? (Or maybe we should rename them the Paramilitary Games.)
I mean… missiles on your roof top….
(BTW, who the fxxx is Fred Wigg?)
Britain’s Great Sporting losers
Although not a particular fan of Andy Murray, for reasons well documented, I do nevertheless have a grudging respect for the fight he put up against Roger Federer in the recent Wimbledon Final, although I can’t say that I particularly approve of blubbing in public – I mean, whatever happened to the ‘Stiff upper British lip’?
Indeed, I respect him for not only putting up such a gallant challenge in the final but also for all the tough opponents he dealt with on his way to the final. It was appositive tour de force for a great British tennis talent, who in most eras of the sport would have almost certainly chalked up several grand slam victories by now.
He is by far and away the best British tennis player for generations, having already fought his way to no less than 4 grand slam finals, and has been up to number three in the world in an era that has so many greats to challenge him. I have no doubt that with good fortune, his day will come, and before he retires he will probably chalk up a grand slam victory or two, but much will depend on the fortunes and fitness of his betters, namely: Messrs Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic.
In recent years, Murray has beaten all three of them when it didn’t really matter, but on crunch occasions – grand slams – he has always been the loser. The reason for this is very simple; it is a sad but true fact that they are all better players than he is. Ask anyone who knows anything about tennis and they will tell you the same thing – Murray is great player but the ‘magic three’ are even greater. If Murray ever beats one of them in a grand slam it will only be because his opponent is not at his best – carrying an injury or not 100% fit. Pound for pound, Murray is simply not in the same league.
I spend many hours a day listening to BBC radio five, as by and large I enjoy their impartial news and sports coverage. But last Saturday – Wimbledon men’s Final Day – Radio 5 gave the event wall to wall, saturation coverage. Fair enough, I suppose as it was a significant sports occasion, and for sure the eyes of the world were on Wimbledon, so why not Radio 5? Why not indeed, and I have no problems with that.
What I do have a major problem with was their continued insistence – virtually every few minutes – from almost every conceivable ‘expert’, celebrity and ‘man in the street’– that Andy Murray was going to win. This went on, hour after bloody hour, with hardly any acknowledgment that there was the tiniest possibility that he might get beaten. No, this was ‘the moment’ – this was ‘the day’, when Britain would break their 70 odd year ‘duck’ since the last British men’s Wimbledon champion. No other possibility could even be contemplated.
What a load of old hog wash!
To be honest, I was surprised when he actually managed to win a set, and well done Andy. I had confidently predicted he would lose in straight sets – as he had in his three previous Grand Slam finals –– but a win against the tennis genius that is Federer in full flow – you can’t be serious!
But I’m afraid that they were.
It was exactly the same story a few weeks ago when the English football team were due to play Italy in the Euro quarter finals. For a while, I thought I was listening to a spoof programme, as pundit after pundit predicted an England win, when the whole world knew that in all likelihood, England would be thrashed.
OK, anything can happen in a game of football and England were always going to be in with a slight chance, but with everyone – from former England manager, down to the grounds man’s cat predicting an England victory, it was truly risible.
I assume all my readers know the result, in which our gallant lads didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.
Ditto the 2011 Champions League Euro football Final. The entire day on Radio five was given over to predicting Manu’s victory over Barcelona. No account was taken of Manu’s less than impressive form and the almost magical manner in which Barcelona had laid bare all before them for months on end. No, everyone was totally convinced it was going to be Manu’s day, and woe betides anyone who dared to forecast otherwise.
In the event, Barcelona wiped the floor with their English opponents, and it was as though I was living in a parallel universe when, the following day, everyone said: ‘I told you so!’
Like fxxx they did.
Now I’m all for English/British fans – including your truly – giving their unswerving support to their players and or teams and that’s the way it should be. But for a publicly funded, professional, supposedly unbiased radio station which prides itself on covering events in a critical manner, to encourage blatant, irrational nationalism where the only possible result will be a victory for us, because ‘we’re so much better than the enemy’, is utterly ridiculous, and to say the least, highly irresponsible radio journalism.
I mean – come on guys – when are you going to learn that us Brits are the world’s finest losers? Didn’t you know that we’re so good at it, that we actually prefer losing to winning!!! For then we can all have a good cry.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a Hoot!