Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blogger Poker Tour Final Tonight


Hey peepsicles!

So is everyone ready to play in the Blogger Poker Tour grand final tonight? Oh no, silly me, you didn't qualify did you? (unless of course you're one of the other 19 people who did)

Well I hope you're all going to be supporting me tonight, whether be it by logging into poker.com and watching me play, joining in on the forum at the BPT site, or just by sparing me a few thoughts as you go about your evening's business.

Am I nervous? Yes. Do I feel ready? No. I was last to register, and would have missed it if Paul hadn't mentioned it today.

The prizes? Well 1st place is a trip to Australia to play in the Aussie Millions poker tournament. Then there's an 8 foot poker table up for grabs, a 6 foot poker table, a bunch of iPod nanos, some poker chips and finally some tickets to enter some other online poker tournaments.

I'll be happy with at least an iPod, but if I get too nervous then I just go all in on every hand and hope for the best. (not really)

Tune in, 8pm tonight (UK time).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Giving Up Wheat


So for a while now I've known that I'm going to have to give up wheat.

Last year at work I used to start the day with a large latte and 2 toasted tea-cakes everyday. Within an hour of consuming them I would start to feel extremely tired, crotchety and just generally crap. At the time I couldn't tell if it was the dairy that was doing it or the wheat. A year on and I've worked out that, without a sheep-shimmering shadow of a doubt, it is the wheat.

Or possibly gluten.

Also nowadays the effect is gradually worsening. Whenever I eat bread now, I can feel a horrible weight on my body, I have the yawny, nose-running tiredness, and it's started to feel like my whole body is made of wood. And the wood is cracking like a dead tree.

But giving up wheat! That would involve never eating pasta again, or bread, or tea-cakes, or cakes or biscuits or most breakfast cereals. And don't suggest the wheat-free alternatives to me, cos they are SUSPICIOUS! I've had the wheat-free bread and it is OK as long as you only eat it as toast.

Having said the above, I think for the time being that I'm only going to give up bread. I can't say I've noticed any actual reaction to pasta, which might add weight to my allergy actually being to gluten. Not that I understand such things. What is gluten? Is it in pasta? Why does it make me think of someone sticking their hand in a barrel full of hot toffee and pulling it out with all the toffee hanging off it like mozzerella cheese?

As mentioned in a previous post, I'm reading Allen Carr's book "The Easyweigh to Lose Weight" which is proving to be most excellent so far. One of it's major emphasises is on cutting down on food that has been overly tampered with by man, and I think that bread comes into this category, so I feel doubly good about cutting it out.

Now I just need to maintain the mindset that I'm not being deprived of all the bready goodness. Rather I'm being provided with the joyous wonder of healthy, non-tired feelingness, and weighty-losing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Allen Carr - Who'da Thunk It?


So, having smoked for most of this year, after having quit smoking for 4 years, I decided I really really needed to quit.

Those of you who know me will know that I have an unusually obsessive approach to smoking (and other things). For example...
  1. I can only smoke Benson & Hedges cigarettes, and only those that are sold in the UK, not the foreign made duty-free ones.
  2. I can only smoke with a drink. This can't be water, and is preferably not orange juice, unless it's watered down.
  3. I need the cigarettes I smoke to be no more than a few hours old. That is the age since the cigarette packet was opened, as they begin to age and go stale immediately. It was about 10 years ago that the age of the cigarettes became important to me. 8 hours old was the original age limit, then it was reduced to 4, and nowadays it's around the 2 hour mark, 3 at a push.
Now, a lot of people would think that, if push came to shove (stupid expression), I'd smoke really old cigarettes, or a different brand, or without a drink, but this just isn't true. This makes me quite a unique smoker, I believe. I think the problem is that I'm not much of a fan of the taste of cigarettes, and it's only Fresh Benson (which is also my rapper name) that has a purity that makes them almost flavourless.

Anyway, to the point. As I don't smoke cigarettes that are more than a couple of hours old, this has meant that I have to buy 3 packets of 10 Benson a day. I'd try and not smoke until mid to late morning. I'd then smoke a packet from, say, 11am through to mid-afternoon, I'd open another one when I got home from work, and a final one for the evening. These cos approximately £2.70 a packet. Now add to this the cost of a drink every time I'd go out for a cigarette (1 can of coke = 2 cigarettes), and that's an extra couple of quid a day. Basically it all adds up to at least £10 a day; that's at least £300 a month.

£300 a month I don't have.

£300 a month for the last 10 months.

That's £3,000.

That's £3,000 I didn't have, and don't have. Hence the need to quit before Dr Trouble diagnoses me with doom disease.

I tried to quit repeatedly over the summer, but kept returning to the "supportive crutch" of my cigarettes. I've known for a while, however, that I have to give up imminently. So, on the advice of my friend Brian I went out and bought 'Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking'. Brian assured me that this is awesome and worked for him. After buying it I also heard that it worked for my Brother-in-law too. I also delved onto the web, which I'd previously avoided due to not wanting to hear inevitable bad reviews about the book, and found that people were absolutely raving about it.

After reading about a chapter I quit smoking. The very next paragraph I were to read after quitting told me that I shouldn't try and give up until I'd finished reading the book. Bugger. Fortunately it did say that if I'd already quit then I shouldn't take up smoking again just for the sake of it, so I remained abstentive.

The book was fantastic. I'm a great believer that, with most things in life, there are no quick-fix solutions, but this book really takes apart the reasons behind why we smoke, what perpetuates it, and how to combat the fear and withdrawal. And it does this in such a positive and optimistic way, and really teaches to you tackle quitting with self-belief, courage, fearlessness and joy.

OK, so I don't agree with every single word he says, but I agree with at least 95% of it, and that 95% is so so right that his, in my opinion, slightly awry opinions on a few things really don't matter.

So I haven't smoked for 9 days now, and am not struggling with it in the slightest. I know I won't smoke again, yet I don't feel the dangerous complacency that it's easy to feel when you've quit for a bit. This is mainly because the book really hammers home the danger of smoking even one cigarette.

So, yay. I can now afford to live again. I can continue to tackle my spending addiction issues, without haemorraging £300 a month into the ether, which to be honest was making my spending no more than £5 a day plan look a little laughable. Also I can now tackle the controlling of my spending using several elements of the approach I used to quit smoking; namely a positive pro-active approach that doesn't involve hiding from the issue, and removes any fears associated with not spending. etc.

I've also bought Allen Carr's Easyweigh to Lose Weight, which will hopefully help me shed the 'few pounds' that I've put on since 1999. I'll let you know if it's any good, or if it turns out to be the weak sequel to the classic original.

Anyway, I'll shut up now before I get too evangelical. Except to say that Allen Carr died 2 weeks ago today, ironically of lung cancer. Apparently this wasn't because of his 33 years of smoking, but rather was caused by him spending the last few decades spending most of his time with smokers helping them quit.