Neat!

A paucity of double-yolked eggs this week suggests that the Chicken of Good Fortune has moved on, Mary Poppins-like, to another family who needs her more. Not that I’ve had a run of bad luck or anything. Perhaps the Good Fortune rubs off and sticks around for a while.

Meanwhile, Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT!) has been making my desk shake and irritating colleagues. It’s a fancy-wancy sciency-wiency* term for any kind of energy burn from movement that’s not related to eating, sleeping or deliberate exercise. In my case, it’s The Jiggly Legs. You know, the kind of irksome jumpy knee bounce that just goes on and on. I’m doing it on purpose. Not to cause irritation (it’s not in my character to deliberately irritate) but to actually see if there’s any calorie-burning benefit as hinted at in this study here.

I’m grossly over-simplying the science, which dips into metabolic rates (something that is woefully misunderstood, not least by me), but the money shot is that differing NEAT rates could potentially account for a difference of up to 350 calories burnt per day between individuals, depending on stuff like age, weight, etc.

But seriously, moving more is always good. Walking is one of my favourite things. How could anyone not love a good walk? Moving less and sitting around is almost always bad. Apart from mindful sitting, which everyone agrees is a good thing.

Do you know the difference between Eurodance and Pop House? Or the subtle musical elements that distinguish Glitch Hop from Chiptune? Have you ever wondered who the primary exponents of Spanish Indie Rock are? (Nueva Volcano, we’re looking at you) The answers to these questions can be found at Every Noise At Once, which maps out all the musical genres you didn’t know you didn’t know about, as well as the ones you did, and gives you free snippets of music from each one. I spent a happy few minutes sampling Progressive Deathcore last night and I find my musical horizons considerably broadened.

It’s the creation of Glenn Mcdonald. Kudos and tips of the hat to him. His wizard website will even generate Spotify playlists of your chosen genre. Put on your dancing socks and get clicking.

Cardiovascular Tip of the Week: Running Up That Hill

Want to get hot and sweaty? Yes, well, another way to do it is something called Hill Intervals. This is a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) protocol which mixes the cardio-improvement benefits of HIIT with the run training opportunities that only hills can provide.

Find a hill. The best kind would be a long, steady slope of about half a mile. We’re not talking fell running here. We’re talking the kind of hill that you could walk up without using your hands to help. Warm up first, then get to the bottom of the hill. Run up for 30 seconds at a fast pace that you’d be able to sustain on the flat for five minutes, shouting “The hill loves me! I love the hill!”**. Then walk down for 30 seconds, recovering slightly. Repeat. Run up, walk down. 30 seconds each way. Eventually you’ll get to the top. It’ll take between 8 to 12 run-ups. If you haven’t vomited, you’re doing well. Now walk home, swearing and sweating, and vowing never to listen to the exercise advice of anonymous internet strangers.

Remember: not all exercises are suitable for everyone, this one included. It’s best to talk to a friendly health professional before beginning a new exercise regime. Be kind to yourself.

Self-assessment Tip of the Week: Apply Magic Sauce

How about a website that takes a squint at your social media jibber-jabber and divines your true nature from what it sees? That’s what Apply Magic Sauce does. It’s free, and you’ve got nothing to lose but your self-respect.

If you love self-assessment character surveys (because you suspect you’re hiding some dreadful and fundamental psychological flaw and you want to find it before it’s too late) then try these:

The VIA Survey

Discover my Profile

Writing Tip of the Week: Worthless Words

I’ve written 80000 words of The Spherical Void, but how many of them are any good? Some of them have been written, re-written, read, re-read, re-written and re-tweaked until they shine. Others are little more than the literary equivalent of a thin skim of plaster on a bare wall.

They all look the same at a distance, but it’s in the reading that the difference shows.

The problem is that if I try to re-read what I’ve just written, I’m still in writing mode and I can’t think like a reader. I’m not in the story, I’m behind it.

In the past this has led to me deleting whole passages of text in a fit of pique. Now I don’t do that. I just let the worthless words stick around and flag them up to be re-read later, when I’m not in writing mode. That’s when I really know whether they’re pants or not.

One thing’s for sure: I am the world’s best Harry Bacon novelist. See? If you doubt yourself as a writer, re-frame yourself until you’re number one in a list of one.

* Is that the right spelling of ‘wiency’?

** Don’t shout. Seriously. You’ll massively reduce your effective power output. Just think the words.