Monday, 28 September 2020

Weekly Update Y2 w39

 This is my big news of this week: 

Unfortunately, I still haven't hit my target of getting below 90kg by the start of September, but I have finally hit it - yey!

My daily weight is still very bobbly, as you can see, but hopefully (barring today) it is bobbly around the low 90s, so soon it should dip below.

I am drinking plenty of water - easily 3litres a day - which I think has helped a lot, and we changed our veg box from British to Quick Cook, which has meant, even when tired, between my husband and I we can rustle up something veggie based to eat.

This past weekend, I took part in the 2020 Race For Life, and surprised myself by how much I was able to jog.  I had intended to walk the 5K briskly, but when I was out, I challenged myself every now and again by running (jogging) a minimum of 3 lampposts.  And I raised a total of £125 for Cancer Research, which given my initial target of £50, I'm very happy with.  (And one final plug: Sponsor Me Here).

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy by Steve Mann

If you don't follow me on Facebook (and if not, why not?!) you may not have seen the news that we have put down a deposit on a puppy.  We can't bring her home for another fortnight, but we are in love with her already.

So, as is my way, I have immediately bought and read a load of books about dogs.  Oh, maybe not a load, but I have bought two for myself and two for my girls.  And yes, I have read them all already.

The first of these is Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy and it contains a wealth of information.

The blurb says:

My name's Steve Mann and I've been a professional dog trainer and behaviourist for over 30 years. As founder of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, I've helped transform the lives of over 100,000 dogs and their families - and now I want to help you, too!

Whether you're living with a brand-new puppy, an adult dog or rescue dog, my methods will give you everything you need to know. Using simple, proven, science-based and ethical techniques, I'll show you how to have the best relationship with your pup, as well as teaching you how to get:

super-fast recalls, great loose lead walking, perfect manners and much, MUCH more...

I promise, it really is easy peasy and every tiptrick and lesson will bring you and your puppy closer together.

I'll see you on the other side.

This is a really well written book. It is casual enough that you feel like you are having a conversation with Steve, yet it is full of solid advice, ways to approach your pet, tips and tricks (though in reality, there is no trick, other than starting training your dog right and don't use violence or aggression to them).

I'm not going to go into what the book teaches too much, because this is a book that I think is worth you buying, but I now have a list of key words stuck to my fridge, and I feel more confident looking after a new member of the family.

If you have a puppy, or want one, read this book, and if you have an older dog, you may be interested to know that Steve Mann has a book aimed at older dogs too.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

On Her Own Two Wheels by Stacy Xavier

 On Her Own Two Wheels is my X in my list - nearly finished now!

It is about a woman called Cassie who decides that her life is a bit same-old, same-old.  In an argument with her boyfriend she says she might want to learn to ride a motorbike, and he dismisses her.  However, as the days go on, the idea takes hold, and she decides to take an intensive motorcycle course, with or without her boyfriend's permission.

The blurb says:

Just three years out of college and Cassie Wright has hit a dead end. Still living at home with her mom and dad and dating the same writer masked as a waiter, Devon, for just as long, she knows she wants more out of life. Motorcycle lessons seem like a fun idea and the perfect escape. Cassie soon finds herself breaking away from her dull life and starts on a journey to self-confidence as she learns how to make each day extraordinary.

While driving home from visiting her grandmother in Wisconsin, she drags a reluctant Devon to a local biker event at a motorcycle dealership. From there, she becomes inspired to take riding lessons for some much needed fun and adventure. In time, she meets Marcus, the part-time riding instructor and full-time college administrator. He is drawn to Cassie’s ambition and adventurous spirit, and a romance quickly blossoms, forcing Cassie to realize she deserves better than what Devon chooses to give.

Becoming more confident in her everyday life through her riding, Cassie quits the electronics shop to become the motorcycle dealership’s new marketing director, opening herself up to an entirely new set of professional and personal obstacles. Cassie must learn to approach her issues in a whole new way while striving to be the type of woman she herself would want to emulate.

An inspirational coming-of-age novel for any woman who has ever settled for less, romantically or professionally, On Her Own Two Wheels tells the moving tale of a young woman finding the courage to challenge herself, break the mold, seek adventure, and make the ordinary in her life extraordinary as she truly comes into her own.

This is an easy to read book that I finished in a couple of days. I thought the first part of the story (where she is learning to ride and changing her life) was really gripping, and I think it could have ended there and be published as a novella.  The book did continue, but I wasn't as hooked by it, though I can't really put my finger on exactly why that is the case? It wasn't bad at all, I just... I don't know.  Maybe I simply thought the first bit was so good, that it was hard to maintain the pace.  I don't know.

Overall, however, I would say that it is a light, enjoyable read. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

You've Got a Friend In Me - The Collective Virtual Choir

If you haven't read about The Collective before, why haven't you read this post or this one? Eh? Eh!

Anyway, here is the final video for You've Got a Friend in Me:

I am in here somewhere!  And no, I haven't found me yet, lol.  So if you see someone with fading purple hair and and a cowboy hat, let me know!

And if you think you're likely to want to join in, firstly, why haven't you joined in already? But more importantly, there is a new song starting soon, so if you did want to join in now is the perfect time. It's Sting's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Actually Factually by Guy Campbell

I don't know why this book was in my list of books to read - I can only assume that my husband got it for the children, thinking they would like it.  However, I do like tidbits of information, so I chose this as my next non-fiction book to read.

This book is a collection of oft-quoted sayings followed by a discussion about whether they are true or not, and covers a wide range of topics.

The blurb says:

A fascinating collection of misunderstandings, mistakes and misconceptions, "Actually Factually" reveals the reality behind just a few of the myths that get mixed up with truth. If you really thought that Christopher Columbus discovered America or that Henry VIII definitely had six wives this book will bring you right back to Earth with a bump.

Full of fantastic facts to wow your teachers, friends and family, the entries include: your hair and nails continue to grow after you die; a goldfish has a memory of about three seconds; water goes down the plughole the other way in Australia; ship's Captains can perform marriage ceremonies and more.

As an adult, there was nothing new in her, but for a child I can imagine it being quite interesting.  Each chapter is only a few pages long, and though there are scientific discussions, nothing is too heavy for a 8+ year old to understand.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Weekly Update Y2 w37

Gah! I've put on weight this week. It's not a surprise - I haven't eaten great.  I haven't prepped any meals for a while, and exercise hasn't been top of my list either.  Hands up, it's my fault.

I did get closer - 90.2 kilos, but now weigh more than that again. Hmpf.
And this is why I've been record keeping for over 18months now...

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Cuties - Film Review

There has been a lot of furore about the film Cuties being released on Netflix, not lease because of the artwork.

Netflix did issue an apology, however, by then the damage had been done.

Most of the fuss about this seems to have been in the US, so it had bypassed me.  It was only on a couple of FB groups I'm in that this has been discussed, with articles and tweets showing both sides of the 'debate'.

Recently, however, I have been seeing more friends in the UK sharing how this film promotes paedophilia and sexualises preteens, it is encouraging children to sexualise themselves etc and even one video where the person is calling for the actors' parents to be prosecuted and have their children removed for allowing them to be in this film(!), yet the articles I've seen suggest that this isn't the case at all.  I have asked people who are sharing this material whether they have seen it, and they admit that they haven't, but are warning other parents about it... So, this morning I watched it for myself.

First of all, this is a French (I think) film that has been dubbed into English. The dubbing isn’t to bad, though it is obvious in some places and there are parts (I don’t know if these are an African language, or Arabic) that haven’t been dubbed at all. Secondly, it is not a ‘feel good’ film. There is no happy ending, and is the type of film where I get to the end and think ‘so what?’. Also, it is a 15. Now I know that a 15 is only a rating, and it doesn’t stop kids watching a film (and may even make it more desirable), but for children, this is a boring film. Even for me, it was quite boring, and I only watched it to find out what all the fuss was about. (Yes, yes, clearly their advertising strategy worked…)

So, what happens in the film?

A girl, Amy, moves to a French city and doesn’t know anybody. Coming from an Islamic background, there is a bit of a culture shock as she notices other children her age dancing and dressing differently to herself. She spies on them and decides that she wants to be more like them, so unbeknownst to her mum, she gets a cropped top and tries to change her image.

As Amy lives in the same block of flats at the girls, she gets into her good books and they allow Amy to be friends with them. The girls clearly have no real understanding of boys/men, and are discussing how long a boy’s penis is and they persuade Amy, with her newly stolen phone, to film a boy using a urinal. The boy shouts at Amy, and the girls are disappointed that they can’t see anything.

Amy does film the girls’ dance troupe, Cuties, and then spends hours alone in her bathroom at home learning the dance moves. After a fight between two of the members of Cuties, Amy is able to take her place as she has already learned the routine. Amy tries to add to the girls routine, by searching the internet for other dance moves, and falls upon lots of twerking and, for want of a better phrase, women dry-humping the floor.

Meanwhile, Amy’s dad is getting remarried, Amy starts her period and “becomes a woman”, and she is now getting lots of attention from boys due to the way she dresses and how she acts. With her friends, she sneaks into Lazer Quest, gets caught, pleads innocence and then dances provocatively to prevent the cops/their parents being called.

The person from whom Amy stole the mobile phone (he is either family or a family friend), discovers Amy has it, and when he tries to get it back, she locks herself in the bathroom and takes the equivalent of a dick pic. She then gets bullied for that, other people ask the rest of the Cuties for similar photos and they throw her out of the group, and the previous girl gets called back in.

At the end of the film is the big dance competition. Amy decides she wants to be in the competition, gets her costume on and walks along the river seeing the girl who has taken her place. Amy pushes her in the river, and after checking she has found a buoy to hold on to, Amy runs to the competition, ready to dance. In front of everybody, the girls dance their very sexual dance and it is not well received by the audience or the judges. Before the end of the dance, Amy stops and breaks down in tears and runs to her fathers wedding. She gets told off by her great aunty for dressing like a whore, but her mum sticks up for her, and the film ends with her dressed in jeans playing jump rope with other kids.

One of the things that has been said about this film, is that it encourages kids to spy and film in bathrooms. It really does not. As I’ve said, I can’t imagine any preteens actually wanting to watch this film, but the scene in question certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone else to act this way.

The dance moves are highly sexual, and that is what this film is trying to highlight – the hypersexualisation of our kids. Having watched it, I don’t believe this film is encouraging children to act that way. As a dance-mum (albeit classical dance), whose girls have been in dance competitions (so I know all about the skin-tight costumes, bright make-up and false eyelashes), I was interested to see what this film said about that. In short, it didn’t. The routine that the girls have learned is from MTV-style dance videos. As many children, do, the characters simply copy dance moves that they have seen adults perform. And yes, it looks ridiculous. Even ignoring the fact that twerking is of African origin, as is the character Amy, these are kids pulling silly poses. It does not look “sexy” in the slightest, just ridiculous, and I would throw the question back at anyone who can look at an 11yo as a sexual object.

Allegedly, when the girls are dancing, there are a lot of “crotch shots”. Again, this isn’t true (assuming crotch to mean from the front, not from the back). The camera does occasionally zoom in on the girls’ behinds, but this is because it is [meant to be] Amy with her mobile phone, and her fascination with bums and womanly figures, after being teased by the girls for having a flat bum herself.

One accusation thrown at the film is true, but again, there is context. At one point, the girls are learning how to twerk, so they are using their hands to move one another’s bodies. This is not done in a sexual way, but in trying to get the beat/rhythm of the moves so they are all in time.

The girls do dance to get out of trouble with the security guards at Lazer Quest, after already accusing one of them as a pervert. This is often how girls learn about their own sexuality, and boundaries, and “women’s wily ways” etc. It isn’t always appropriate, and I don’t think this film is suggesting that it is appropriate nor that any young girls watching should try and emulate the characters.

Amy does take a photo of her underwear/vulva (you can’t tell from the film), but nothing is seen. She gets bullied for it in the film, called a stripper and a whore, and is thrown out the dance troupe for it, so neither is suggesting this is appropriate nor acceptable behaviour.

The final dance scene – the competition – is shocking (as it is meant to be), cringe-worthy and horrible. And they all just look ridiculous. The girls are on the stage, gyrating, putting their fingers in their mouths, fluttering eye lashes and pouting; and then there is a repeat of the twerking and dry-humping the floor. I know I would be mortified if my girls tried to dance this way. To me, this highlights exactly what happens when children are left to learn from the internet without an adult guiding them. For example, my girls do Jazz and Modern dancing, and though there is no official law, their dance school will not teach them certain grades/exams until they reach a specific age due to some of the moves being risqué. 

Lots of kids are not taught about sex, relationships, personal health etc in an appropriate or timely way. As such, they turn to peers or the internet to guide them. It pains me to think that there are many young people who think body hair is nasty, disgusting or unhygienic. It pains me to think that there are many young people who think they have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, do specific sexual things, in order to be liked, wanted or desired. It pains me to think of all these children who grow up to become adults and think this is all normal behaviour.

So, about this film: Would I recommend it? 

Not particularly. Like I said at the start, it’s quite boring (though I appreciate that I may not be cultured enough to like this type of thing). If there was a happy ending, or if there was some tension that could be resolved, or some kind of progress in the film at all, but there really wasn’t. In short, a girl tries to fit in, goes waaay too far, and ends up maybe as a happy medium, but we don’t actually know. We don’t know if she has any friends left. We are just left hanging. It’s not the spawn of satan as some people think, and it certainly doesn’t promote paedophilia any more than taking your kids to the beach would, or simply a clothing catalogue. It does look at the emerging sexuality of young girls, but this film is from the young girls’ pov (ie wanting to become sexy and failing), rather than from an older man’s pov (ie looking on them lecherously). And it didn’t give me the icky feeling that I have felt when watching films whose material is much less taboo (I’m looking at you: Indecent Proposal. Yuck!).