Depends!: Glasgow 2017!

Depends!: Glasgow 2017!: Glasgow 2017! What a return!

Glasgow 2017!

Glasgow 2017

So, after professionally procrastinating (something I seem particularly good at on occasion!) for a good few years about going to see the wonderful city of Glasgow and some family again, I finally got around to it! What, about 5 years late?!

I did study Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Glasgow between 1996 and 2000 (21 years ago; yikes). Yes, UCAS as it was known then and my choice of what to do had me around the country visiting a few different universities, none of which stood out, until… I got to Glasgow.

Everything about the place did it for me. The city’s people, the vibe, the architecture, and the university itself. Everything. It felt like somewhere I wanted to be. The university – what it (the course) offered, how it looked, where it was/it. I knew where to hedge my bets (A-Level grade hopes!); and that was March ’96.

Even travelling there and back, I randomly met another potential student - Pete - on the train, and shared a bit of excitement as to where we were hopefully going after the summer! I knew Glasgow after that day, what was then my choice number one university by a country mile; bad pun! (Scotland of course!)

Thankfully my grades proved to be OK and I got the phone call from the course director in the August – I popped a forward roll (my last, martial arts failures aside!), honest! – I just then had 2 months to wait.

The course is another story, other than Pete also got through and we are still great mates to this day!

Anyway! Back to, err, Glasgow 2017!

My Mam is one of four sisters hailing from Argyll and the only one to have ‘fled the nest’, leaving three remaining in Scotland and subsequently some amazing cousins! Ronald met me at Glasgow Central – all arranged – and we walked to his car. During that walk to the car I smiled, naturally; gratitude, memories flooding back and a home feeling?! Back in my (close) second favourite city; Newcastle only got top-spot (again) ten(ish) years ago. I’m a big fan of Glasgow if you hadn’t have guessed! Did not feel like it had been years since I’d been at all.

We got to Sally’s home where I met herself, her other-half and daughter (and dog and cat!) with instant family vibes. 5 years? 5 minutes! Plans where in action! Ronald’s better-half Chrisanna arrived a bit later with more of my cousins too. We chatted and looked forward to what was to come later!

And off we went to the city again :-D first port of call was to be a public house obviously, an initial hub for other cousins to join the party! I must add, the whole family meet-up was not my doing, shock-horror. Planning? Ahem.

The whole crew met up there apart from two who had baby-sitting problems – they’d be a bit later elsewhere. Wait for it!

Luckily enough for me, we had a driver! No complaints from me, and to the city centre! Again, I had the Glasgow buzz. Too long since Roj, too long. We parked and walked to the pub meeting place which was busy but not daftly so (a table was found after a little while – the empties were NOT ours, nor was that bottle!) and a few short ones were had. There was a table booked at Masala Twist. Curry? Hell yeah! Fits and giggles aplenty were had in the pub as David and Katie joined us!

Curry’o’clock and spice time! You’ll see from the excellent picture that we had a great table and that the rest of the crew had joined to make a full squad apart from Sharon, my skin and blister, this time (sorry sis, my (no) planning gone wrong).

We ate! Lovely venue, lovely service, lovely curry. One problem. I ate too damn much! Oh well, hardly a complaint! Great crack was had all, fantastic seeing them/you all. However, the night was but young! Onwards!

Having not been there for quite some time and as the guest, I followed to wherever. Good for me, apart from what was sitting heavy – the curry! – so a welcome wander to… The Society Room!

A spacious Wetherspoons was the venue and it proved to be spot-on! Not stupid prices, seating was about if eyes were kept open which they were, and we got sat. And drank, also not stupidly; age?! Common sense!? Both?! It was truly brilliant to mix and chat, until we erm, got kicked out! Closing time; at the bar; asked to leave not kicked-out.
What next. That’s when being thankful for being sensible’ish (far from hammered) worked wonders. Why? Well what follows a night in a city pub, or used to? A nightclub! LONG time since I’ve been at a nightclub anywhere, 17+ years in a Glasgow club of then choice! And then a first for me in the shape of an 80s & 90s club! An eye-opener!

Best way to describe the club? Hmmm. First and foremost, it was fun! Who doesn’t like 80s pop! Hands-up, when I was younger, a lot younger, I hated them. More fool me, but that’s part of growing up. Ahem. I’m a 90s kid. Not strictly true! I’m 39, do the maths! I lived the 90s! So, to have an 80s club to the left and 90s to the right... Different granted, but immense fun mixing with cousins throughout the night, left (80s) and right (90s)! Ha!

Here’s the little music annoyance. As a bit of a self-confessed music-snob (call me what you like!), I was reminded after a good while, what I didn’t (and seemingly still don’t) like about certain nightclubs in Glasgow when I lived there. I can only apparently take so much ‘cheese’; before it affects one’s mood, a little. Sad? Yes, in this essence, but I can’t change that. Wish I could! Did NOT change the whole occasion at all!

Glasgow 2017. What an amazing amazing fantastic short break. Wish I hadn’t left it so long! Thank you all who played out! It was great to see you all. Really great! Your care didn’t go amiss either; not forgotten - thank you all. The MonSter was tamed!

Depends!: Fomer engineer keen to help others with multiple s...

Former engineer keen to help others with MS:
That's me, the engineer

Former engineer keen to help others with multiple sclerosis

Former engineer keen to help others with multiple sclerosis

Wow – it has (once again!) been a while. I do need to get a routine involving this blogging business (which for me, it isn’t by the way (business!)!).
So by means of catching-up a bit, I’m going to the time I started my 2nd (1st time 2005!) flirt with Coronation Street in about June 2017 for reasons close to me – not a sudden Corrie fan!

I received an email asking me if I would be open to be interviewed by the MS Society, being quote, “a northern bloke with living MS”. Well, I am that and of course I said yes (didn’t shout “aye!”)!
Why? I was told that in about a month’s time, there was going to be an emerging story in a character’s story in a soap with multiple sclerosis, and that my story may help the character’s story develop!
A first for me to be interviewed like that – for helpful research, not hammered about a job (of which I’ve had quite a few) – and I enjoyed it. I of course answered with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My denial of MS being the key and how I dealt with it; more than that
The result? This fabulous article written by the Press & PR Officer, MS Society, that got published in a local media, the News Post Leader piece, my 5 minutes of fame!:
A former engineer has opened up about living with multiple sclerosis (MS) after the condition hit a national soap opera.
Roger Cook, from Cramlington, says after seeing Coronation Street’s Johnny Connor be diagnosed with the condition, he hopes more people will understand it.
The 39-year-old had just graduated from university in 2000 when he started experiencing dizziness followed by other symptoms – numbness, difficulties with walking and problems with his vision.
After seeing an optician, Roger was referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary for tests, and a few months later, he learnt he had MS.
Roger said: “I didn’t tell anyone at work, and I kept it from my own family for a few months. I wanted to keep it as my own problem, and I think I was also in denial.
“I was struggling to deal with having this on my shoulders; I didn’t want to affect the people I love too.”
For a number of years, Roger was able to continue working but was forced to give up his job in 2006 as his symptoms started to get worse. He now has difficulties with his speech, memory and balance.
“Being told by my neurologist that I wouldn’t work again was absolutely heart-breaking,” he said. “I’d spent 11 years chasing a career, only to have it taken away from me.”
“I had a few rough years coming to terms with what my life now means. But looking back, I don’t think keeping it to myself was the best idea.
Roger is more open about living with MS, and volunteers with the MS Society’s Newcastle and Gateshead Group.
He said: “I’ve learnt that you can look up information on the internet but it’s not the same as speaking with people, especially your family and others with MS.
“No two people with MS experience it in the same way, so being involved with the group has provided a great support network. It’s given me the chance to hear from others in the same boat as me.”
Speaking about the new Coronation Street storyline, Roger says he hopes it will raise awareness about the condition and challenge the misconceptions that people with MS often face
“I hope Johnny doesn’t end up in a wheelchair straight away, because that’s not what MS is like for everyone,” he said.
“People say to me they don’t believe I have MS because I’m not in a wheelchair. I want more people to know what MS is really like, and it’s great that such a massive audience will see this.”
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said: “Finding out you have MS can be really difficult - not just for the person diagnosed, but also family and friends.
“Many people affected by MS will be able to relate to the issues Johnny is facing, and it’s great to see Coronation Street raising awareness about MS through this new storyline.”
About multiple sclerosis
·         MS affects more than 100,000 of us in the UK
·         MS is often painful and exhausting and can cause problems with how we walk, move, see, think and feel
·         It’s unpredictable and different for everyone

About the MS Society
·         The MS Society is here for people with MS, through the highs, lows and everything in between
·         We have a free helpline - 0808 800 8000 and information can be found on our website
·         We’re driving research into more – and better – treatments for everyone
·         Together we’re strong enough to stop MS

Fame? Not really, just me 'being brave' I’m told, and honest, that I am! Another MS media something (with me in it somewhere) coming soon, I’m led to believe. About? That’s for me to know!

Stay tuned to find out! (Corrie flirt is over btw!)


Sleep Blog

I recently attended a course about sleep… ‘Sleep in People with a Brain Injury’, presented by Dr David Lee. First off, why? Insomnia; a condition I have that may be linked to my ‘bigger condition’, it may not. MS being the bigger condition that is linked to the err, smaller one. Sleepy yet!!?

People with multiple sclerosis often have trouble sleeping soundly, but the problems may not be due to the disease itself. Stress, spasticity in arms or legs, inactivity, or depression that can come along with MS can interfere with a good night's rest

Google’s top answer. I just know I have been a chronic insomniac for over half my life. Yikes. First time I’ve written that!

So, the course. It started off – “about sleep” – generally how much people need and that everyone’s needs are different; age is a big factor in this as well! 8 hours? Common ‘requirement’ nonsense, but the average time is 8 and a quarter hours. People can be long or short sleepers at any age.

There were 12/13 people in attendance all with different needs; from some who only get 2,3,4 hours a night, some 12+ hours a day.

Dr Lee was (obviously) talking about sleep, in a ‘not too detailed fashion’ at the start, as an introduction to the group. Building a picture.

The presentation was done in conjunction with a slideshow showing what was being talked about. The interaction with that and us all was brilliant at all points.

As the presentation progressed I learned a lot more about the whole sleeping process than I thought I knew; I thought I had a good sleep hygiene knowledge. Yes, great insomnia experience hence my attendance. My brain injury? MS! I haven’t really slept ‘well’ for 20 years!

Anyway! There are 3 stages of consciousness – awake, REM, NREM (non-REM). I didn’t know that.

When we sleep some dream right? I do, but I hadn’t given any thought as to dream type/s. At all! However, they ‘exist’!

What are the types of dreams? Here are some! :

  • Daydreams.
  • False Awakening Dreams.
  • Lucid Dreams.
  • Nightmares.
  • Recurring Dreams.
  • Healing Dreams.
  • Prophetic Dreams.
  • Epic Dreams.
THE most common thread throughout (mentioned a lot) was that of the circadian rhythm. I was aware of the circadian rhythm through my many attempts to address my insomnia as best as I can/could, but had no idea of it in the way it was shown to us and discussed. Fascinating. To me anyway. What is it?

What are circadian rhythms?

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that roughly follow a 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness. They are not the same as our biological clock but somewhat related, in that they drive our circadian rhythms. Go figure! Whey, that’s where the brain gets involved - coordinates all the body clocks so that they are in synch (molecules and cell grouping obviously!). I say brain, it is actually a "master clock" in the brain.
“Master clock”? If I knew enough biology to try to explain clearly I would, other than it is a collection of about 20000 nerve cells, is in the hypothalamus just above where the optic nerves cross. Hmmm. An MS link? Also, a genetic link to the circadian rhythm too. MS link?

Circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors within the body, but they are also affected by signals from the environment. LIGHT is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms, turning on or turning off genes that control one’s internal clocks.
The other thing I noted and was the 90-minute cycle within the bigger cycle. Think about yawning. Yawning is a good sign at a circadian bottom/drop/dip and therefore time to sleep! Or wait through another cycle. If you yawn randomly at say, 7pm (too early for sleep), after another yawn or 3, you’ll be awake again(!). Next yawn time? Probably about 8:30pm and so on. So bed time could be 10, 11:30… Or wait through another ‘cycle’ It seems true, to me…

So, what effects does it have on us? As the circadian rhythm can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions (good and bad), they have been linked to various sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Makes sense, right?! A great deal of other possible baddies can be linked too, for example obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. What a thing then!
Sunlight makes us tired! Serotonin, the wakey-wakey feel-good molecule production as a result of sunlight. Melatonin is made from serotonin. I picked up to get outdoors for morning walks when the sun is in the blue spectrum light and/or a ‘lightbox’ for the same effect, brings out the melatonin action in the evening! In the evening, infrared light, we see a lesser effect. Here’s the bedtime light negatives for some. TVs, Smartphones, tablets etc, emit BLUE light suppressing melatonin production and therefore going AGAINST sleep. Damn.
MS and melatonin. Do we not get out as much due to MS? Very possibly.

Anyway, the second half looked at and into types of insomnia with possible causes etc. I thought the course was brilliant. Massive thanks to Dr David Lee for his expertise in this matter.

What keeps me awake? Thinking about thinking; thoughts of everything and nothing! Have to laugh really. It does affect my MS symptoms if the ‘sleepometer’ goes down too low a well. Used to it now though!

As always, I invite any comments and look forward to the next blog!

Depends!: Music. Diverse Electronica

You will know or not, love or not!

Depends!: Music. Diverse Electronica: Diverse electronica This is a self-titled genre by me! Not unique granted, but as is it random, varied, different, weird… I know I lov...

Music. Diverse Electronica

Diverse electronica

This is a self-titled genre by me! Not unique granted, but as is it random, varied, different, weird… I know I love it! Beeps and bops? A branch of Techno. (I don’t like the description IDM. (Intelligent Dance Music)) Yes please. It is not all ‘good’ I know that but then what genres are there that ALL respective music is good? Exactly.

As I have said in a previous music blog, I first discovered these sounds at University, circa 1996. I knew there and then I liked it a lot. A great deal in fact, and still do to this day.

What is this genre? Here are some examples of what and who I listen to:

          Boards of Canada
          Aphex Twin
          Warp Records
          New Blood 010

There is no real ordering in the list other than my favourite album still remains Autechre’s Incunabula. I thought for many years it was their first (an EP the first release), but I was wrong even though Amber was commercially a second release, I think. Another damn fine album. The way I see-hear Incunabula is that it plays like a move to me. Tells a story. Each and every track has its own musical merits. #Melodic, #moving, thought provoking, #industrial, #futuristic, Terminator’esq... Shall I go on?! It has served me well across the years. Happily lose myself in 78:04 minutes of ghostly electronica bliss.

Later that ‘year’ (2nd year; Uni), I popped into Fopp on Byres Road for a browse, and what was playing at that time I asked about. Boards of Canada came to me from there and then! (’98). Music has the Right to Children has had umpteen-hundred plays! I own their catalogue, on CD! Geogaddi was their second album, released in 2002 that brought a darker sound and with that a selection of new chords, beats etcetera. Other CDs followed – Eps and a quite a while until another album. Come back guys! We want more!

Aphex Twin! Another CD that blew me away – Selected Ambient Works 85–92. Still in this genre, but across a wider spectrum incorporating more Techno sounds. But uniquely. He is a very clever producer and this album for me (and far from just me) stands the test of time.
Aphex Twin logo

I won’t give a/my bio for them all, but you’ll get an idea of my electronica delights! μ-ziq for example, another artist I came across in the late nineties and onward. Similar sounds – but again different. If you don’t have the care or care for such music, it may sound ‘the same’. I disagree! Yes, as I said earlier, I don’t love it all – there is some crap out there – but each to their own! (heavy metal all sound the same? Of course not; but!!!)

I would say there is one major fitting label for this genre and that being Warp Records, and as such I investigate and discover some gems; e.g. Clark! Different again! Check him out! Squarepusher has been around for years, but hands-up I do not own much. Guilty? All in time! And Plaid (pronounced ‘Plad’) also has some magical sounds.

New Blood 010. This was suggested to me by Fran, for which I am extremely grateful. What an album. This – Departure – being my favourite, yet there are others that make me stop; and listen!

Orbital. That's a given just as it/they stand alone, and not dare I say as diverse as some of the above; they are not listed here, but in another music blog!

Hopefully you can sense that I love this stuff massively. However! I do think these days that IF I had to choose one single genre (can’t see it ever happening, ever), it would be…. Classical. Getting old(der), or appreciate the time it takes to develop such an organic sound?! Laugh away! Rave on!

Who’s with me!?! Love your thoughts on your tastes!