The Czechs Of My Life

I do not know many Czech people, and those I do know, I only met within the past couple of days. So far, they appear to be a diverse and eclectic people, and this pleases me.

Alex: my driver from the airport. Friendly, helpful, funny, delightfully easy on the eye. Felt that the most important things to point out in my neighbourhood were the cake and dessert shop, the nice pub, and the pub I should probably avoid. I love Alex.

Can’t-pronounce-or-spell-his-name-yet, the chef in the school cafe. Friendly, cooks delicious, healthy food, makes an awe-inspiring espresso, and – best of all, in my opinion – is apparently completely eccentric. All the tutors and general staff are slightly afraid of him. Not afraid that he’ll murder them in their beds or anything – just afraid in that amusing way that normally confident and self-assured people often are of temperamental individuals. We trainees (I’m doing a CELTA course for a month here, for anyone who was wondering how I suddenly became a student again) have been cautioned by 4 different people, who, normally cool and collected, seem to fear nothing more than setting the chef off.

It would be great if you could possibly tell him what you want for lunch the day before… he tends to freak out if he gets unexpectedly large numbers.

Try not to take up a whole booth by yourself, he’ll freak out… you don’t want him to freak out, none of us wants that.

Just a quick announcement about the coffee situation, as apparently the chef is on the verge of freaking out…

He’s a really nice guy and he cooks really good food, so let’s all, if we could, just do our best not to freak him out.

I probably don’t need to tell you that I am already utterly dying for the day the chef freaks out. I honestly can’t wait. I have no idea what it will be like, but I am certain it will be worth whatever I have to do someone has to do to make it happen. Today, I was just a little nervous about meeting him for the first time, so I was super-polite and made a huge deal about how incredible his goat’s cheese vegetable pasta salad was, and he gave me a huge beaming smile and a free coffee.

Alana, the accommodations person. She is already my favourite person here. With a thick accent that is sometimes comical, but mostly sweet, she is a short, middle-aged lady who just wants everybody to be happy. She makes me think of an older version of myself – I’d even be willing to bet that she has at least two cats. She spent ages today trying to help me with internet problems, and then gasped in horror when she saw how hot and tired I was after barely getting any sleep thanks to the heat (in the non-air-conditioned apartment!!) and then sweltering through a day of classes (in the non-air-conditioned school!!). Oh, my dear sweetheart! she said, fairly shoving me into a chair in her cool office. You must sit here and enjoy the cool and beautiful air. What can I do?

Well, I said hopefully, enjoying the cool and beautiful air, I was going to ask if you could write down some directions to a shop where I could buy an electric fan for my room. I really can’t sleep when it’s that hot.

Oh, of course not, it’s horrible, you poor girl! she agreed passionately. Oh! But I can borrow to you a fan from my home! She disappeared, presumably to borrow to me a fan, and returned with another gaggle of helpless students in tow. Hayley, dear, I sent my colleague to bring the fan, you just wait here, I told him be fast! I sat for about 15 minutes just watching the woman in total awe as she seemed to bat off problems from every direction, talking on the phone at the same time as guiding two students through a form and issuing directions to a handyman.

Who is for? Alex the driver appeared in the office with an electric fan, and I meekly raised my hand. Thank you so much! I called gratefully to both of them as I gathered up my books and files and staggered outside under the weight of a fan.

You are being cool! replied Alex with a grin.

You’re very welcome! called Alana, covering the phone with one hand to yell after me. But please tell everyone you bought it yourself! I don’t have 100 fans to give out!

I was smiling all the way home to my now considerably cooler room.

No, I don’t have many Czechs in my life… but I’m already enjoying the presence of those who’ve just arrived in it!

Names changed* in the hope that no one from the course finds my blog until it’s over (the course, not the blog).

*Apart from the chef, I really can’t pronounce or spell his name yet. 

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Underground, overground…

I’d forgotten the sheer joy of arriving in an unfamiliar country. It’s been too long. My trips to China, Mongolia, Japan, and Hong Kong while I was living in Korea feel like a distant memory, and my travels through Europe seem so long ago that they may not actually have been real at all.

My driver is called Alex, and he’s waiting for me in the arrivals hall, patiently holding a large envelope with my name on it. He’s a tall, burly, good-looking man in his early 40s, and he grins at me as I wave to him and make my way to him through the crowds. Welcome to Prague! he says in a thick accent, handing me the envelope and immediately taking my bags. He gives a sharp whistle, and an adorable little blond boy aged about four comes scampering over from the children’s play area by the door. My son, says Alex apologetically. My wife work, so

I soon realise that his English isn’t good enough for us to have much conversation, but he’s very friendly, and does his best to point things out to me as we drive to my flat. Oh yes… it feels so good to be back in Europe! The old pastel-coloured buildings, the cobblestones, the towers and turrets… I was sick of it all after my country-hopping around the continent before I took off to Asia for a change of scenery, but after a few years of temples and pagodas and neon lights, I started to feel a bit nostalgic for Europe. Of the three continents I’ve been to thus far, it’s easily the most beautiful. I spend most of the journey gazing out of the window with a big smile on my face, listening to the sounds of the city mingling with the voices of my driver and his small son talking to each other in a language I have never heard in my life.

Alex drops me off, and I quickly throw down my bags and head out for a little walk around the neighbourhood. It’s dark, but I’m restless and stiff after a day of travel and delays, so I’m craving some exercise before I try to sleep. I’m not entirely sure how safe this is, as the streets are poorly lit, but it seems like a respectable enough area. I head out, and have taken about ten steps when I encounter some kind of creature walking across the grass towards me. Is it a rat? It’s a very fat, oddly round sort of rat, but I don’t know what else it could be, and as I am not particularly keen to encounter a rat, I hastily turn and start walking in the other direction instead.

Crickets are chirping in all the bushes (which I love). Cicadas are shrieking in all the trees (which I do not love). Another rat is walking down the path towards me. For feck’s sake! What sort of rat-infested hovel have they dumped me in?! This rat is also a weird shape, but I can’t see it very well as it’s half-hidden in the shadows, so I make a sudden run right past it, and keep going until I am out on the main street, where there are more lights.

A rat walks out of the bushes. What is going on here?!!!

It’s sort of shuffling along like the others, all waddly and round, and I stop to stare at it as it casually wanders across the footpath right in front of me, apparently not giving a toss about my presence. What the feck are you?! I ask it wonderingly, more curious than scared now. It doesn’t answer me, as it probably doesn’t know any English, so I edge closer to it – a funny little shuffling figure, which is looking less and less ratlike, and more and more like a miniature Womble of Wimbledon. It doesn’t have a tail. I’m not entirely sure, because it’s still too dark to see clearly, but it appears to be a hedgehog, or something in that family. It’s quite cute. I watch it amble cheerfully off into the shadows, and meet several more of its friends and relations as I walk around.

It is summer, and I am in a beautiful old city, and there are Womble-like creatures freely wandering the streets, possibly recycling litter.

It’s a good start.

How to make money from bookies… WITHOUT gambling!

Gambling is, by definition, risk-taking. If there’s a 0% risk, therefore, it can’t actually be called gambling. Which is weird, because when you spend a few hours a day on bookmaker sites, it certainly feels like gambling!

Here’s what happened. I was overloaded with writing work for my first month or so at home. Gradually, as is the way with freelance writing, the work sort of petered out for no particular reason, and then last week I recalled something I’d discovered when I was researching a series of articles on money-making ideas for students. I originally dismissed it as too good to be true, but now I decided to go back and read the article properly.

It’s an easy-to-understand, well-written guide on the subject of matched betting. Now, what you should know here is that I’m not a gambler. I’ve too much of an addictive personality – on the few occasions when I’ve played casual, low-stakes poker games with friends, I was the one who quickly lost everything and promptly bought more chips to keep playing. It’s wiser for me not to gamble at all! I don’t even do the lottery.

When it comes to bookies, and races, and odds, I have absolutely no clue. It’s a foreign language to me. However, you don’t really need to understand any of these things to participate in matched betting. You will need to know what some of them are, but not to understand them in the slightest.

The guide explains a foolproof, risk-free method of making money using the free bets offered by most bookmaker sites to entice people to open an account. For example, if you sign up and make a £5 bet, PaddyPower will give you a £20 free bet. This would obviously still be risky and count as gambling, as you have no guarantee you’re not going to lose that initial “qualifying bet”. Some free bets are higher, but then you’ll have to make a higher initial bet in order to earn the free one. The system, however, guarantees that you won’t lose a single penny – and in fact, providing you follow the instructions, you’re guaranteed to make a profit. Guaranteed!! I’m very excited about this!

So, here’s what happens. You download the simple spreadsheet from the afore-mentioned guide. You sign up to one of the free bet sites, and bet the required amount to unlock the free bet. However, to eliminate the possibility of losing that money, you then place a lay bet on a betting exchange site called Betfair. A lay bet is where you bet against an outcome – so, if I bet £5 on PaddyPower that Team/Horse/Player A will win, I then immediately place a lay bet on Betfair that Team/Horse/Player A will NOT win (that the result will be either a loss or a draw). By entering the odds into the spreadsheet, you know how much to place as the lay bet stake. You won’t make a profit with this initial bet, but you won’t lose any more than a few pence (which you will more than get back when you use your free bet) – the two basically cancel each other out. Then, when the bets are settled, you’re allowed to use your free bet – £20 in the example I used.

This time, you repeat the process using a slightly altered spreadsheet and searching for higher odds to increase your profit. Because you’re playing with free money and matching your bet on the exchange site, you aren’t risking anything – you are guaranteed to make a profit. It’s maths, not gambling. You can play around with different odds to find the best combination (and even I am now starting to get an idea of what sort of numbers make for the biggest profit!). If you spend a bit of time searching, you can make a profit of up to 90% of the free bet!

As I’ve had no work on and am soon to be potentially unemployed and homeless in a foreign country, I couldn’t really ignore the opportunity to make money from sitting in front of my computer screen. I’ve probably spent a total of about 10 hours on this over the past few week, and I’ve made nearly £150. That’s £15 an hour. At absolutely no risk! Honestly – the spreadsheet shows you the exact amount to enter into the betting exchange site to safeguard your actual “bet”, and tells you the exact amount (EXACT: pounds and pennies!) you will make. The actual outcome of the race or game is completely irrelevant. If the horse or team you back loses, you will lose nothing because it was a free bet, and you’ll make your profit on the lay bet. If the horse or team wins, you lose your lay bet stake but collect your profit from the site where you made the free bet. Either way, your profit will be the same, and you already know what it’s going to be before the race or game even begins. I couldn’t actually tell you who won or lost any of my “bets”, because it doesn’t matter in the slightest. There’s none of the risk of gambling – you’re taking advantage of the system thanks to some clever mathematician who was generous enough to write a how-to guide and share his spreadsheet for free. If you’re interested there is a bevy of opportunities being shared, check out the promoted event: CompareTheBets’ List of Promo Codes . You’ll be able to choose something that interests you , give it a shot.

I’ve just realised I sound like I’m being paid to write this post, but I swear I’m not! I’m just absolutely amazed that it’s possible to make money from bookmaker sites without actually risking anything. In the absence of work, it’s making a little extra (and very welcome!) cash for me. Before I leave for Prague on Sunday (oh yes, I’m leaving for Prague on Sunday, not sure if I’ve actually written about that yet!), I will have earned back the price of my flight to get there. Not bad!

Just thought I’d pay it forward and share the info in case anyone else with a few spare hours in the evenings fancies making a bit of pocket money. I doubt that anyone could actually make a living from this, and you’d eventually run out of free bet offers, but even if you were to spend just a few hours per week on it, you could make enough to put towards a holiday or something. Tip: the more money you have to play with (you won’t lose it), the more you will make. I’m gradually getting more confident and going for the higher free bets, which means I have to have quite a large amount in my Betfair account to cover the lay bet. You don’t have to – you can stick to the lower bets and make profits averaging around a fiver a time, with only about £20-£50 of your money in the exchange site at any time. I now trust the spreadsheet, so I’ve been depositing a lot more to cover larger free bets. The last free bet I earned was £50, and I spent half an hour searching for the best odds match. When the event takes place tomorrow (I can’t even remember which sport it was in!), I will make a profit of £38.24, regardless of the result.

Better than spending the night mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, which is what I would normally be doing!

Zimmerman and Martin: is race relevant?

The opinion I’m about to give is probably a controversial one, but I’ve been giving the Trayvon Martin case a lot of thought since the “not guilty” verdict that has caused international outrage, and I am somewhat bemused by the extremely one-sided picture being painted by the majority of people.

I must start by clarifying one thing. I vehemently disagree with America’s gun laws. I don’t think civilians should be allowed to own guns. I don’t think that having guns in homes and on streets is sensible, safe, or beneficial. I also believe that no one has the right to take another person’s life, and that allowing people to own guns means that this happens even more  easily than in countries where guns are banned.

However, I accept that my views on gun ownership are not shared by a large percentage of Americans, and as it’s a separate issue, I’m setting it to the side for the purpose of this article. People can legally own and carry guns in the USA, and they can use them in self defence. It’s not a crime, regardless of my own personal beliefs.

So, leaving that aside, here’s what I don’t understand. Why has the Martin/Zimmerman case become a race issue? For anyone not familiar with it, here’s (my understanding of) what happened.

A community in the States started a neighbourhood watch scheme after suffering from a spate of break-ins and burglaries. A man named George Zimmerman was put in charge of it. He seems to be a regular citizen, no criminal record, well respected. He called 911 to report suspicious behaviour from an unknown man who was wandering around in the rain, “looking at all the houses”. He mentioned that the guy looked as if he could be on drugs, and asked for the police to come. Then the man started to run, and he followed him. There are varied reports from neighbours about what happened next, but it seems as if there was a confrontation, a physical fight, and yells of help from Zimmerman, who then withdrew his gun and shot the man – later calling it self defence.

The unknown man was Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old who was staying with relatives in the area. The gunshot killed him. Zimmerman has now been found not guilty of murder.

Had I read this story, reported like this, I would have been saddened and then probably added it to my list of “examples of why guns are bad”. I would then just as quickly have forgotten about it, because, sadly, this kind of story is not at all unusual. People are shot and killed with alarming regularity. The shooters often walk free, too, because the law protects them. I hate it, but there it is.

However, this particular victim was 17 years old, making him a child in legal terms. He was also black.

Because of this, the story is largely being presented like this: Zimmerman racially profiled and stalked an unarmed child, then killed him, simply because he was black.

WHAT?

I really do not understand this. Nothing that is public knowledge about Zimmerman indicates that he’s a racist, or that his concerns were even remotely related to Martin’s skin colour. He only mentioned once that Martin was black, because he was asked directly by the 911 operator. He had made numerous previous calls relating to intruders or strangers who appeared to be behaving suspiciously, so there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that he singled out this one person based on his skin colour.

What if it had not been Martin, but a white man? There’s absolutely nothing to suggest that Zimmerman would not have responded in the same way. And would this be all over the media, with the public up in arms because the shooter (who is hispanic) stalked and killed a child simply because he was white? Of course it wouldn’t. The media would – as they should be doing here – report on what is known and/or alleged to have happened. A neighbourhood watch leader reported an unknown individual behaving unusually. There was a confrontation, the facts surrounding which are unclear. Eyewitness reports and Zimmerman’s injuries suggest that he was on his back, being beaten and shouting for help, with Martin on top of him when he pulled out his gun and fatally shot him. A jury found him not guilty of murder as he acted in self defence. 

Again, I don’t believe in shooting as a form of self-defence – but legally it’s allowed in the US. That, together with the amount of “reasonable doubt” and lack of evidence, means that the verdict returned by the jury was the correct one. You cannot send someone to prison for using a weapon in self defence when laws are in place giving them the right to do so.

I don’t doubt that those jumping on the bandwagon with this probably have good, genuine intentions. Racism and racial profiling are very real issues which need to be addressed, and of course I’m not disputing that. But that isn’t what this case is about – and if anything, turning it into a race issue is doing more harm than good, by putting unnecessary labels on people in a murder/self-defence case where there’s absolutely no evidence that race was a factor. There was no reason to make it one. Calling Martin a child is evocative – and inaccurate. He was 17, well built, and 6’3″. At 17 years old, many people are parents, living alone, or working. He was not a child.

He was young, and it is tragic that he died, and I’m not by any means trying to say that I think he deserved it (I don’t) or that there’s not a possibility that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (there is). But I am baffled by how people are calling this a murder of an innocent child, which happened purely because he was black. The facts that we know about the case do not even hint at the possibility that race was a factor.

We don’t know what happened. We weren’t there. Maybe Zimmerman provoked Martin, maybe Martin provoked Zimmerman. But we don’t know. That’s reasonable doubt. The only thing the jury could do was acquit.

The race of either party is completely irrelevant.

So why has it become the sole focus?

Twelfth (Fort)night

archCompletely unrelated to Shakespeare, the Twelfth (see older post for details!) is a pretty big deal in Northern Ireland. The main event is on the 12th of July, hence the name, but preparations begin weeks – even months – in advance. Red, white, and blue streamers are strung across the streets, flags are flown from houses and lampposts, and decorative arches are sometimes temporarily erected for the parades to pass under. Kerb stones may even be painted red, white, and blue in protestant/unionist/loyalist areas. Throughout this time, known as the “marching season”, numerous band parades and Orange marches take place across the country.

Here’s what things currently look like in the area where I grew up:

flags and streamers

In July, we have what’s commonly called the Twelfth Fortnight. For the two weeks surrounding the 12th of July, businesses in the past traditionally closed down for a summer holiday. Obviously, nowadays, we have all the same big chain stores and supermarkets as everyone else, so this doesn’t happen to such a large extent, but some smaller local shops and businesses do still opt to close for the Twelfth Fortnight (which has now begun). The Twelfth Day itself, though, is a national public holiday.

In the midst of the aforementioned build-up, it’s common to see large piles of rubbish springing up in patches of wasteland or parks, often with a hand-painted sign out by the roadside asking local people to “DUMP WOOD”. Over many weeks, the bonfires are steadily built, usually by young local boys. I took this picture today, of my neighbourhood’s bonfire.

bonfire

Bonfire ready for burning – the Unionist flags will be removed first, and replaced with something else. Mmmm-hmmm… read on…

When I was a child, I remember each bonfire having a small makeshift hut next to it, which would be constantly occupied by a couple of tough-looking young men. When things were less peaceful than they are today, rival youths from nearby Catholic/nationalist areas would wait until the bonfires were towering high and almost complete, usually a few days before the Twelfth, and set them on fire in the middle of the night, when no one was around. There was no way the bonfire builders could scramble to collect enough material to rebuild them in time, and once it was alight there was nothing they could do but watch helplessly (and probably go retaliate in one pleasant way or another, such was life around these parts). They would have to do without a bonfire that year. And so the huts were built, with guys sitting in them in shifts to guard their bonfires from potential saboteurs. Yes, we are a complicated people.

I haven’t seen any such huts this year (other than at the HUGE bonfire at the Shankill), so I suppose that means either everyone’s living in peaceful harmony now, or the Catholics just don’t give a shit any more.

So, what’s the craic with all these bonfires, then? Well, on the day before the Twelfth (creatively titled…. the Eleventh), there’s usually a bit of a knees-up. The bonfires all across the country are lit to launch the celebrations as soon as it gets dark on the Eleventh Night. In my family, we always used to have a BBQ on the Eleventh, with the extended family – as I have said before, I am by no means a loyalist, but I always loved the Twelfth when I was a child. I didn’t know much about it, but all the family was together, the adults were having a drink and a laugh, the kids were playing outside, and there were bands and BBQs. For children like me, the Twelfth was just an exciting, fun, family holiday.

On the Eleventh night, people make their way to their nearest bonfire. The surrounding streets will be lined with food carts, burger vans, souvenir stalls and the like, similar to a fairground or festival. The bonfire is lit, and everyone stays and watches until the item on the top of it is engulfed in the flames. There’s a loud cheer. This is the part that I wish with all my heart that they’d stop. The rest of it seems light-hearted, an excuse for a party, family fun. This part is not.

The item on top of the bonfire is an Irish flag.

Even when I was small, I didn’t like seeing the flag go up in flames. I didn’t understand it, but it made me feel sad to see a flag being burned, even though I didn’t particularly know how offensive an act that can be considered. I loved watching the bonfire burning, and I loved seeing people having fun around it. But when the flag caught fire and the loud, roaring, victorious cheer erupted, I was scared.

Despite developing a serious aversion to the whole Twelfth thing throughout my late teens and my twenties, I’m looking at it all with a more open mind, these days. I’m very much of the opinion that community celebrations, festivals, and cultural events are a good thing, whatever country they’re in – as long as they don’t hurt anyone, and are not intended to cause offence. People are entitled to their beliefs and opinions, their customs and traditions.

The Twelfth decorations and parades, as I discussed in a recent post, do not generally seem to have offensive intent. Yes, they do cause offence to some, but I know many Catholics (both indifferent and nationalist) who join in with the local events alongside their Protestant neighbours. It’s (largely) a tradition and celebration of identity, not an attempt to intimidate or offend, as I believed for many years.

You can’t realistically expect any group of people to abandon their beliefs, traditions, customs, or holidays because they may offend those from a different background. You don’t cancel Christmas to avoid offending the Jews. You don’t tell the Muslims to stop dressing like that in public to avoid offending the Christians. You don’t tell the Irish to stop celebrating St. Paddy’s Day to avoid offending… oh, I dunno… the teetotallers. You’re always going to offend someone. You just try to live your life according to what you believe, and don’t be a douche by specifically trying to offend anyone.

But burning a flag? No. That is offensive intent. How could it be anything else? Can you imagine if people all over Canada ritually set fire to the flag of their southern neighbours every year, while cheering and dancing? Blimey, I think the world might actually end.

My world view of “can’t we all just get along?” is probably a bit weak and unrealistic, but it’s the only one that works for me.

Christians are entitled to celebrate Christmas despite the Jews – but don’t be an antisemite.

Muslims are entitled to dress according to their beliefs despite the Christians – but don’t attack Christian churches.

Unionists are entitled to celebrate the Twelfth despite the Nationalists – but don’t burn the Irish flag. Or any country’s flag, for that matter.

Just… don’t.

Shake it off?

I have resorted to desperate measures.

Those of you who were reading my blog around this time last year might recall that upon seeing a particularly horrific Fat Photo of myself on Facebook, I burst into floods of dramatic tears and swore to lose weight – which I did, very quickly, by tracking calories using the My Fitness Pal phone app, half-killing myself with Jillian Michaels workouts, and (perhaps most importantly) cutting out beer, wine, and sugary cocktails. Not that I went teetotal or anything silly like that, but I became a strictly vodka and Coke Zero girl to the extent that I brought my own Coke Zero to the bar for weeks on end until they finally started stocking it for me. It had to have been a very serious lifestyle change if it even altered my partying habits!

Of course, after dropping 3 dress sizes and about 30lbs, and basking in the satisfaction of everyone telling me I looked good, I thought I’d earned a wee break when I went home for a few weeks at the end of the summer. Exercise stopped, healthy eating stopped, old habits came back, and I just never got around to returning to the healthier lifestyle I’d developed before my “break” – which ended up lasting until I left Korea for good in the middle of May this year. Obviously all the weight gradually crept back on again, and I found myself back at square one and feeling depressed as hell when I saw photos of myself.

So, back I went to the Jillian Michaels workouts, the calorie counting, and the general hatred of anyone who can eat sausage rolls, curries, crisps, and pasta without being obese. IT’S NOT FAIR, may I just say. But anyway. I finished the 30 Day Shred, which I never actually managed to complete the last time, and started a different one (Ripped In 30). I started walking, jogging, and running with the Couch to 5k plan. I took Zumba classes. I’d say I’m exercising at least 3 times as much as I was last year. And the results?

What results?!

Grrrrrrrrr! Honestly, it makes me want to hit someone every time I stand on the scale and see the same weight. I’ve lost about 6 pounds in 6 weeks, compared to about 15 pounds in the first four weeks last time. Why?! WHY?!!!! My clothes are getting looser, I’m feeling much more energetic and healthy, and I’m getting a wee bit more toned, but I’m apparently not losing weight. It’s very discouraging to be working myself into a red, sweaty mess at least once a day, and missing out on all the delicious unhealthy treats I love, just to maintain my current weight – which is at least 30lbs more than I’d like to weigh.

So anyway, The Sister asked if I wanted to try out the latest “exercise” craze with her, and we went along for our free trial tonight.

shake

It’s called Studio Shake, and is basically a long room filled with little individual cubicles, each one containing a machine that looks like a standard piece of gym equipment. They’re called “FLABéLOS”, and they promise “a one hour workout in ten minutes”. Hmmmm. I’m generally skeptical of quick weight loss fads and diets, and I firmly believe in lifestyle changes, healthy eating, and exercise as the only sensible long-term option. I’ve seen it work before, after all – I just didn’t stick to it!

However, when I’ve already been doing all the sensible stuff and making all the right changes, and am still seeing no results… well, I’m at the point where I’ll give something else a try. I’m not stopping what I’m already doing, but I’m going to try this as well for a few weeks, just to see. It’s not particularly expensive, and it’s 10 minutes out of my day. What have I got to lose? Oh, yes – 30lbs.

flabelos_frontIt feels… weird. You literally just stand on the machine, press start, and let it shake you. Thankfully each cubicle is private, so nobody can see you jiggling around like a giant lava lamp. You can pull back the curtain between your cubicle and your friend’s if you want to chat while you wobble. (“Your boobs are vibrating!”, The Sister cheerfully pointed out tonight.) The plates in the machine vibrate, causing the muscles in your body to try to stabilise. These involuntary muscle contractions apparently burn as many calories (and result in as much slimming and toning) as an hour-long workout. I’m not quite buying that, but there must be something to it, going by how many regular customers the place has, and the positive results I’ve been hearing about. I highly doubt that it would make much of a difference if I was eating as unhealthily as before and not exercising at all, but as I said at the start of this post, it’s time to resort to desperate measures! Maybe I’ll try some diet pills that work, maybe it’ll give my metabolism the kick up the backside it appears to need this time around, or maybe it’ll be a waste of time.

Still, at this point I’m willing to risk wasting 10 minutes a day!