Personal best

Last Summer I went 8 straight weeks without alcohol, or 56 days. Today I'm on day 58 of this Summer, which, I think must be my longest baron spell since I started drinking at about 13 or 14. 42 days to go, or 6 more weeks and I have my 100. It's a new personal best baby.

As I've been saying since I got back from Mexico, I wanted to go the whole time I was back in England, keeping myself alcohol free. And I'd love to say exactly how long that was going to be, but surprise surprise, 10 days after being told someone would be in touch within a week with a job offer, I've still heard nothing from Canada. It's not like it's not unexpected, but that doesn't mean it's not somewhat frustrating. I'll wait a few more days before chasing them up, because I'm sure that last time I tried to get in touch, I bugged them so much with missed calls and emails, that they wouldn't appreciate too much if I did all that again. Although on their end, it would be nice if they appreciated that for me it's not just going to be a case of packing my bags and leaving. There's all the things I'll need to do before leaving, such as flights, accomodation in Vancouver. Then once I get to Canada, I need a couple of days in Vancouver to get some admin sorted such as getting my social insurance number, and then to obviously get through to actually be at this resort, so the sooner I know things the easier it will be, though it's not at the panic stage just yet.

XL tour operators I suppose it could ultimately be a blessing in disguise. XL went out of business this week, so with tour operators and airlines seemingly dropping like flies, to book flights too early may prove costly. Had I known everything about this job 4 weeks ago say, then there is every chance that I would have booked a flight through Zoom, so every cloud...

GBP - USD exchange rate GBP - CAD exchange rate Now if you remember back to 3rd of this month, I wrote a blog entry It's kickoff time. In it I referred to the depressing reality that was the falling value of the pound. Well good news today is that the value of the pound in relation to both the US dollar and the Canadian dollar, is stronger today than it was then. And the even better news, is that according to this forecast from, by the end of this month, £1 will once again be valued at nearly $2. That's the good news. The bad news is 1, I don't trust this graph because it seems to disagree with other forecasts that I have looked GBP - USD exchange rate forecast graph at. And 2, even on this forecast, things are going to get a lot worse afterwards. I'll be monitoring this carefully though, and it may make financial sense at some point for me to hedge my bets and invest in some foreign currency. The problem though, is when? Had I done so like I was contemplating as I wrote on September 03rd, then I would feel like a total prick right now. To make things even more unpredictable, Lehman Brothers have now filed for bankruptcy, so who the fuck knows what's going on? This unpredictability is one of the reasons I'm making sure my money is well spread out between different banks right now, so I don't fall prey to an unexpected collapse as I'm travelling and get left penniless.

Staying on banks, the exact same thing happened to me on Friday in Abbey, as happened to me in HSBC that I was writing about in my last blog. I go into a branch because I want some face to face assistance, and they point me to a phone. What is the fucking point in all these banks bragging that they're the best because of how many branches they have, when all they do is point you to a damn phone? Abbey is launching the Abbey Zero credit card, and seemingly spending a lot of money marketing it. I want one because there is zero commission on purchases made abroad. But I have to ask, what is the fucking point is marketing this flashy new credit card, if people can't actually get one? I applied for one online a few weeks ago. I've had no correspondance since then, so I go into a branch to try and sort it out. They point me to a damn phone, which provided absolutely no help, because I probably got put through to a damn call centre in India that doesn't know shit. In the end I just leave Abbey pissed off that it turns out that they're such a shit bank. I just applied for another card online. It seemed easier than trying to sort out the whereabouts of this first card. So now I may have 2 Abbey zero credit card Abbey Zero cards, or I may have none. You'd think spending so much on promoting their stupid little credit card, they'd have a system in place where people can actually apply for it. If they fuck up the application this time, then I'll just get another card off Nationwide. I want 2, or maybe even 3 credit cards, for security when I'm travelling, so I can keep different cards in different places, so if my bag gets stolen for example, I'll have another card in my wallet. If my wallet gets stolen, I'll have another card in my bag. And if my bag and my wallet get stolen, then I'll have another card in my pants. I already have one credit card and two debit cards. If I can get this total up to 5 then I should be pretty secure. Though with it turning out that Abbey are actually just a bunch of retards, this might not be so easy. I wanted one from Abbey, because already having a Nationwide card, I would also be secure if one or the other suffered the same fate as Northern Rock, for example. But it's no big deal. Nationwide aren't showing any signs of problems. And I'd rather have all my cards from a bank with systems that actually work, than fucking Abbey, whose Internet applications clearly don't work, their branches are just there to have phones in, and the people on the phone are fucking retards. If you can't tell, I don't view Abbey too fondly at this moment in time. Putting me on the damn phone. Why the hell have you got a branch there for?

A couple of blogs ago, I was suffering a dilemma. Do I buy a Fuji S8000 fd, or do I buy a Panasonic FZ18? Well after I wrote that blog, I came to the more likely decision, that I was definitely going to buy the Fuji. Until I read some more reviews, at which point I was definitely going to by the Panasonic. Then the Fuji dropped in price nearly £5, and after even more deliberation, I decided on that. But after speaking to people and reading even more reviews, I decided to finally buy the Panasonic. Now I've read even more, and I'm back on the Fuji again. And I was all set to buy this, but the price went back up £5 to £139.99 from £135.04. And being the stubborn little shit that I am, I refuse to buy a camera today for £140, that was only worth £135 yesterday... it really has been a yo-yo Fuji S8000 fd at full zoom decision. Despite the price going up though, I think I'm going to fight through my principles, and reluctantly pay £140 for the Fuji. I think I know in my head that it is the right camera to buy. Maybe satisficing a little, but it satisfies all the criteria I want from a camera, mainly a super-zoom. And although the Panasonic appears definitely the better of the 2 cameras, by my standards, £140 is a pretty hefty investment. Is it worth another £65 (I found a cheaper price for the Panasonic as well) to get marginally better pictures. I think common-sense says no. I'm not going to be creating print-outs or publishing them professionally or anything, so what does a slightly improved picture quality really matter to me? I'm 95% set on the Fuji now. If nothing else, that £65 saved could go towards a tripod for example, and maybe some more memory. And considering I already have Fuji compatible memory cards, but not any for the Panasonic, the saving will be more in the region of £85 or £90. That could go towards a video-camera I'm also considering buying for my travels, or anything else for that matter. Living on a shoe-string, £90 goes a long way. I just have to fight my urge to refuse to pay £140 for a camera today, that was yesterday only worth £135. It's going to be tough.

Last time I wrote I was saying how I was planning on taking my running a bit more seriously. This wasn't just talk, I meant every word. And although I'm still a little reluctant to run on my right knee, over the past couple of days, I've taken steps to prepare for when I'm back and healthy again. I said in the last blog that I wrote, that I walked my usual running route for a couple of reasons. The first was to gather an idea about the actual distance that I was running, and the second was to gage realistic target times for when I run. Fully intentional on increasing my fitness levels to the point that my current route is somewhat farcical, I have since walked two new routes that I will use to progress as my fitness hopefully increases over the coming weeks before I leave for Canada. The first of these took me, at a very brisk pace, 2:50:46. On the possibly inaccurate assumption that I walk at about 4mph, that measures this route at between 11 and 12 miles, and gives me a minimum target time when running, of 1:25:23 (half the time taken to walk it). Knowing the area as I do, this seems a fairly accurate measurement. It included a circuit of Richmond Park, which I know is about 8 miles, and getting to the park along the riverside from Twickenham, adds about a mile and a half each way, so between 11 and 12 miles shows to be accurate. That was on Saturday. Then this morning, I walked a route a step above this one, taking me a total of 3:30:51, translating to 14 miles, and giving me a minimum target time when running, of 1:45:25. If I can get my fitness level up to running this in the next few weeks I'll be satisfied. Especially considering the levels of hills on both of these routes, if I can get my fitness level up to a point where both of these routes become very basic, I will be happy.

This is one thing I'm doing to enhance my fitness. I'm also planning on doing a little experiment on myself. I've been working-out regularly for about 4 years now, and in that time have educated myself on fitness principles somewhat. One thing that I've read a lot, and always obeyed, but somewhat dismissed in my head, is the supposed importance of resting muscles after exercise. I can appreciate that you have to give your muscles time to rebuild, and under that principle, yes you should allow adequate rest time between working a particular muscle. But at the same time, I'm a great believer in the ability to adapt of the human body. If you torture yourself enough, I believe that whatever Anatomy of a muscle man, biceps doesn't kill you, your body will learn to deal with, and will adapt to deal with. Therefore, it is my theory, that rest is only necessary after working a muscle-group, when you are starting out. If you have a hard work-out for the first time in a long time, you're sore for the next week. And you can feel that your body isn't ready or able to lift again. But once you get back into the habit properly, the soreness eventually leaves, and however hard you work, you cannot give yourself that incapacitating soreness that you suffer after that first workout. You may have 2 or 3 days of mild soreness, but nothing like when you first start. Your body has adapted to the fact that you're going to be damaging your muscles. I will typically work each muscle group, once a week. So my body knows, that if it has recovered a group after 5 days, that will be adequate. What I want to try therefore, is torturing one muscle multiple times daily, to see if my body can adapt to it, and note any losses or gains in muscle size. I've never been a naturally big person. Hell I was less than 135 lbs when I started working out. Now I'm significantly more, but in the absence of performance enhancers that I flat-out refuse to ever take, I will always be a comparatively small person. One muscle that I have found particulary had to make gains with, have been my biceps. This is one of the reason I'm going to be torturing them in the name of curiosity... just to see what happens. They should have the most potential to grow. Another reason is the ease of measuring how big they are. And a further, is that being a small muscle, they can be adequately exercised with the light dumbells that I have at home, without the need for additional equipment.

Sharks on tour, Salou 2008 So here's my plan. First off I need to find a tape measure and get a measurement of my biceps before I start this little experiment. I'll also be taking a body-fat % reading, and weight reading, as additional body-fat could explain growth when measuring the size of the arm. From then on, I'm going to work my biceps multiple-times daily, mainly just doing seated bicep curls. It'll be at times such as watching TV, rather that laying back relaxing, I'll have a dumbell in hand. This way it won't interfere with my daily routine at all. Then I'm just going to monitor, and see if my body can adapt to this level of work to the muscle. Will soreness eventually disappear? Will I make gains because how much I'm working the bicep? Or will I make losses because I'm not giving the muscle time to recover? I'll be honest, I'm just curious. Like I said, my arms have never been huge, so I don't have very much to lose if this does go negatively.

Exercise, the poor man's plastic surgery Let me just give an overview in what I'm thinking here regarding exercise. I'm going to keep on getting to the gym and doing weights workouts with maybe 30 minutes of light cardio, probably 5 times a week. I'm going to keep cycling as my main mode of transport. Then, on the condition that my right knee can withstand it, I'm going to be running maybe 3 times weekly. Once I get up to the 14 mile route, that would be 42 miles per week. Then I'm going to be working my biceps at any time of day I happen to be sat still, just to see what happens. And finally, I want to implement a proper ab workout into this cycle. Probably 3 times a week, at a guess on days I'm not running. As I've said previously, even getting to the gym virtually daily and cycling everywhere I go, I've still been gaining fat since I relaxed on my diet. I haven't taken a body-fat reading to confirm this, but I can see just looking in the mirror. This amount of exercise should be able to somewhat justify the additional carbs I'm now taking into my body, and offset the additional energy I'm giving myself. It's hopefully only 6 or 7 weeks until I leave for Canada. Like I said, although I don't expect to stay that way, I'd like to leave to travel in a decent physical condition. This program will go someway to justifying that. I'll add in other little challenges as well on my days off. For example, I still have every intention of cycling to Brighton at some point. The weather has put me off so far, but if I want a day away from exercise, a relaxing cycle to Brighton, and maybe back again, would be a nice way to spend it. No timer and no intensity. If I left at 8am say, I have 10 hours to cover 65 miles until sunset if I plan on getting the train back. Fat Jessica Alba's ass people can cycle at that pace. So that's my exercise plan. It could all turn to shit if my knee can't withstand the trauma caused by running, but if I hold firm, I should be able to shed the extra fat I've gained over the past few weeks, and hopefully progress further. We'll see how it pans out.

There's just a couple of updates regarding this website since I last wrote a blog. Firstly, Google has finally taken notice of the changes I made to the <title> tags, and the additions of the <meta> tags to some of the main pages. This now means that the website now features more prominently in Google when searching particular phrases. As the picture shows, now when you type "Jethro Williams" into Google, this website now features 2nd in the list of results, even overtaking my Facebook profile which sits in 4th. Search for "Travel blog around the globe," and I come in at 19th position. Search for "Jro travel" and I come in at no.2. I'm not sure why anyone would ever search that last one though. Bottom line, this website is now featuring a lot higher in Google's listings. So hopefully this will translate to an increase in traffic before too long, however marginal. Like I've said previously, I don't really want to increase traffic until I start travelling, as this will be when the content on this site might actually be of interest to people, and there will be much more variety in content, such as frequently adding new photos. Speaking of which, Google listing for "Jethro Williams" I've noticed that the photos from "Gallery," which is the open-source program I am using to host my pictures, are being listed on Google, with the page title of what I have named the photos. Therefore, they will be more likely to appear high-up in search results if I name photos to include words that people are likely to search for. Now after spending 2 days naming all of the photos I currently have uploaded a few weeks back, I cannot be fucked to go through and change them. I will though bear this in mind when labelling photos in the future. Firstly to include words that will be searched for, such as the location of the photo. And secondly, to, where possible, keep the name of each photo different. Unlike the photos that I currently have uploaded, which I've named many of, exactly the same thing to save time. Worth bearing in mind though in the future.

Another thing I've decided would be beneficial, but I'm not having much luck with, is adding a "related websites" page. Essentially I would locate people with similar websites to this one, and add a link to their site on this page, and in exchange, would have a link to my site somewhere on their website. The trouble I'm having, is finding willing websites to exchange. Because my site is so new and shit, I'll struggle to get a link exchange with a good site. So in an attempt to locate some shit ones, I've added posts to 3 of the webmaster forums, advertising my proposition. It was a little like writing a lonely hearts ad in that "I am a new, travel website, looking for similar sites to exchange links with for mutual benefit." It wasn't exactly like that, but you get the idea. But I put out those posts on Saturday, and as yet I've had zero responses, so I guess if I'm going to get this to work, I'm going to have to contact people directly. Just like if you want to find this website, you have to put obscure and long search queeries into Google, I will have to do the same to locate start-up travel sites. As much to be gained from the fact my site name will be exposed to viewers of their site, having a link on another website helps with the Google ranking. Although by my understanding, not too much if it's a shit new site. But it might help. That's not to say I don't have any links already. I've been making sure to have the homepage URL as my signature when writing in forums, so I currently have 36 links to my front-page. I doubt they're really worth much to Google mind.

Jro's World homepage screen shot The other idea I've had, which like most of my ideas, I have no idea how to implement, is to have a slide show on my homepage, and maybe on other pages if necessary. Either a slideshow, or a different picture everytime you refresh the homepage, just like a different quote currently comes up everytime someone goes onto the homepage. Currently the homepage looks like this. And yes it has a currently seldom live webcam. And yes it has flashing quotes that change everytime you refresh the page. But I still want more varying content. So as well as trying to make the "related websites" page a reality, I'm also going to be investigating the feesibility of implementing this. People told me that implementing a webcam was going to be overly complicated, until someone told me about Stickam. This sounds like it will be just as so, but there's bound to be a way around the problem. I'm sure there will be services that will host a slideshow on your website for you, but that will be with the condition that their site is linked to and their logo is present. I don't really want this to be one of the first things that people see on this website, so I'll see if I can find a way around it. They're my two website challenges at present. You see what I meant when I said a while ago, developing this site will never end? Whenever I think I'm getting to the point of being satisfied with how everything is, I come up with new ideas about how to make it better. And being IT retarded as I am, I have to educate, before I can implement these ideas. I bet if I started this whole website process 5 years before I planned on starting travelling, as opposed to 10 or 11 months as I did, then I would still be making improvements by the time I left. It's a never-ending project.

Speaking of which, the Java dream that was the subject of the first blog entry that I wrote after test-entries, is now officially over. In keeping with my plan to sell what I own of value before I travel, I eBayed this java book this week. Therefore any hopes I had of teaching myself Java are on the shelf for the time-being at least.

Houston Texans Reliant stadium damaged by Hurricane Ike Now in previous blogs, I've voiced my displeasure at peoples ignorance regarding climate change. This really hit home this week, when due to Hurricane Ike, the Texans home game versus the Ravens was postponed. Having banked on Andre Johnson this year in my fantasy football, people unnecessarily wasting fuel and creating change, have cost me NFL points this week. And that is unacceptable! Before I was pissed about it. But now I demand an efficiency the energy that people use. If there's one thing that pisses me off, it's losing at fantasy NFL. And although I still won this week, that's not the point. This could have killed my fantasy season. If climate change wasn't serious enough already! Fucking Ike.

Raw egg in a glass Guide dogs welcome sign I'm pretty much done now. Last time I ate a raw egg, I started seeing some weird shit. I said it at the time, but I swear to Christ I was seeing into the future. I was knowing things before they happened. I had an egg that went out of date, so I thought I'd try again. It didn't work this time. It's surprising how nice raw egg actually tastes though. The other thing I thought this week, is have you ever looked at guide dog signs, and just asked yourself, why? If someone's walking with a guide dog, are they really going to be looking out for Guide dogs welcome signs. It's like having a no wanking sign in a ward for multiple amputees.

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