Thursday, 16 October 2014

Episode 58 of PMICast is now up on iTunes

It's been a busy few weeks work wise and personally so I haven't been updating the blog in terms of business blogging too much recently so apologies for my laxness.

I have just found time to record the latest episode of my medical insurance podcast.

You can stream live at or find us on iTunes (or you're preferred pod catcher) by searching for PMICast.

In the ep this week we're discussing how important it is to have your PMI reviewed regularly.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Teaching karate - harder than you might think

This is probably a bit of an daft point to make but teaching karate is a lot harder than you might think.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle a my club last week, the senior instructor and myself (I'm the assistant club instructor) were both away from training last Wednesday and we had to leave things with one of the other more junior (in terms of age, although technically he is a higher grade in Shukokai karate than me - he's in his early 20's and I'm 44) black belts to run the club for the night.

The problem was a group of quite young junior grades who from the sound of it kind of run rings around him and basically messed him around all night. Cue complaints and comments from watching parents and so forth. Ironically the parents said, after the fact, pretty unanimously that the kids should have been treated more strictly and the junior black belt felt he couldn't shout at these juniors for fear of upsetting the parents - bit of a catch 22 situation.

Teaching karate and in particular kids takes a lot of skills beyond knowing your stuff technically. You have to have strategies. Strategies for dealing with parents, with higher grades, lower grades and especially for kids. You have to create a lesson plan, even if it is only in your mind (after 34 years of training and 28 years as a dan grade I kind of do that more or less automatically) but be prepared to be flexible as the session evolves. In particular you need to develop a style of teaching that whilst confident and authoritative matches your personal style of communicating. My personal style is to have a zero tolerance to chatting, untidy gi's and lack of discipline but once the class is quiet and focused I like to relax and enjoy - have a joke but keep people on point. With kids I make sure they know what they're doing and throw in the odd extra set of press ups to make sure when their mind wanders they know there are consequences.

The important thing to remember is that these skills and strategies do not develop overnight - when I started this new (to me) style of karate in 2010 it took me a few months to get into the mind set of the new style and years to understand the changed teaching methods - even now I sometimes struggle for the next thing to pass on to the class - the important thing though is not what you say or teach to the class but rather that you do it with some authority - expect to be obeyed and people will obey you. Dither about and people will be unsure, especially kids and when kids don't know what to do they revert to type and mess around.

So the message to the junior black belt is to work harder on developing their style and not being afraid to 'take charge'. We've also had to have a rethink in the short term and make sure one of the senior guys is there regardless.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

24 Hours in Police Custody

Watching the first two episodes of this Channel 4 docu-series on 4OD (WTF broken web and Android apps BTW !!?!) and enjoying (if that is the right word for revelling in others apparent misery) it immensely.

However, extremely concerned with the casual sexism and swearing employed by the boys in blue. Given that this is clearly going to be toned down (because the police participants know they are being filmed) Seeing a sergeant in the domestic abuse team flirting/bantering with his WPC colleagues engaging in 'knob gags' seems both insensitive and inappropriate. This happens in episode 2 about 15 or so minutes in to the program.

Personally I love swearing, banter and knob gags for my sins but I would never do any of that at work and importantly I am not a public servant in a department primarily targeted at protecting women from abuse by men - the mind boggles.

That's the ironic thing about irony .... it's ironic

This morning at 9.30am the BT phone book was pushed through my letter box by someone paid to deliver (it wasn't the post man).

At 2.10 pm on the same day (8 minutes ago) a second person delivered the yellow pages.

Seems a bit wasteful not to give both books to the same person (they're much smaller than in previous years) but piling on the irony, who uses the blinking paper phone books anymore ???


On a separate subject, I'm out of the office on Wednesday and Friday this week all day so may or may not have chance to record an episode of PMICast this week - watch this space.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Top Gear departs from Argentina - we've managed to offend the Argentinians

According to (virtually) every news outlet, the Top Gear team has been hounded out of Argentina where they were filming a special.

There are a variety of reports mentioning the crew being stoned outside the airport and so on. What piqued my interest was the reporting of a Porches number plate being used in the program.

Here's a picture of the vehicle :

You will note the reg plate is : H982 FKL

The rumpus seems to be around the fact that the BBC took that vehicle into Argentina which obliquely mocks or is intended to mock with the phrase '1982 Falkland'.

That's fine, no one enjoys a bit of edgy comedy more than myself however, the executive producer of the program, Andy Wilman is quoted pretty much everywhere as saying the following :

"Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme; to suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue."

A bit like that statement is almost certainly untrue.

Hmmm, let's just consider that for moment. A TV program (which incidentally I always watch and enjoy), known for it's presenters slightly right wing, overly patriotic views, which has often been criticised for being jingoistic in the past took THAT reg plate into Argentina inadvertently.

Maybe it isn't Jeremy Clarkson who is responsible for the 'gaffe's' on Top Gear but rather the production team whose grasp on reality and credulity would provoke me to the following comment :

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Dr Who - Series 8 'Caretaker'

I have made no secret of my disappointment with this series about Dr Who.

Time and again Capaldi hovers on the brink of greatness.
Capaldi on the brink
But then the writers add in a ridiculous or non-sensical plot conceit and the reality of just how poor the stories this season have been comes flying back in and I feel like weeping.

This episode is however a classic for quick fire banter. Capaldi and Coleman are on fire with their mastery of one liners and ascerbic comment. Danny Pink even (finally) gets something to do and we have some development of Clare and Danny's relationship that (kind of) makes sense.

Oh, but then there's the story. It's - you guessed it - another bloody robot. The weirdest, cheapest looking killer robot it has been my misfortune to see. It was like seeing the love child of Metal Mickey and Twiki writ large. Who cares, I will say it again, Steven Moffatt... WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT ROBOTS.

They do not make good villains, they have no emotions or character, they are not scary and we do not care.

The sad thing is that next weeks episode looks pretty dull with another space based near Earth romp that has been done a million times. Looks like we're back to episode 2 of each season which is a future space story where nothing happens but we're actually halfway or more through this season - when is something meaningful going to happen ?

Ho hum.

Superior Spiderman

Ok, so the idea of a mind swap in comics isn't particularly new or sensible.

The idea of killing off (?) the hero though and implanting the mind of his arch nemesis into his brain is pretty cool.

What's cooler though is having the hero turned villain then turn hero again as he struggles to inculcate himself into the life of his heroic counterpart.

Otto Octavius, or Doctor Octopus was always a villain who's mouth wrote cheques that his physical capabilities could never match and an adversary that Peter Parker defeated repeatedly sometimes with the minimum of effort. The run of Superior Spiderman, which recounts the journey of the self styled 'Superior' Spiderman from Parkers 'death' to his return in the new run of Amazing SM is all in all a pretty fun group of issues. Otto has lost the spider puns and gained a flair for winning by planning as opposed to relying too much on spider powers and native wit. He also calls everyone a 'dolt' which is pretty fun too.

All in all an excellent run, a little spoiled I thought by the goblin nation story line which distracted (my) attention away from Otto/Parker and more onto a fussy and prissy version of the Green Goblin whose main claim to fame is converted 'goblinised' followers. I haven't finished the run yet on Marvel  Unlimited but am about to embark on the critical 30th issues and can't wait.

So suspend disbelief (it is a guy with radioactive powers who has been in his mid twenties since the 1960's) and enjoy !

Arghh ! What can I write ?

This week I have been desperately trying to come up with something interesting/relevant to put in a blog post and failing quite miserable.

I spent nearly an hour on Monday evening righting a particularly scathing piece of satire about the pricing policy of one of the insurers I work with. It descended into an awful analogy about supermarket pricing that frankly could have ended up with me in court and it still didn't really make the point I wanted to.

Then I considered starting a piece about why Garageband on my 2009 iMac crashes my broadband and decided that no one would really care.

In the end I decided to list the things I didn't write about !

Really boring sorry.