Category Archives: Ramblings

Shoulder Update April 2018

I have been a little quiet recently as not much blog-worthy has been happening but figured I’d post a shoulder update as someone asked what’s going on. Since its approx 14 months since I stopped using the brace/sling for my shoulder, its as good a time to update as any. 

Shoulder Anatomy Diagram

Shoulder Anatomy

I recently had deep tissue steroid injections into the shoulder socket and/or the AC Joint on the right hand side. I’m not sure where exactly in the shoulder this time, but they seemed to load a lot into the syringe. They also needed ultrasound guidance, so I’m guessing socket and/or AC. This was to see if they can take the inflammation down more, as things have improved but not enough. In theory if the swelling was reduced there is less agitation and the potential for increased healing and reduced impingement. Last time it didn’t work out ideally, saying that, last time I had them I wasn’t fully out of training and resting properly so 3-4 weeks post-injections it had returned to normal levels of discomfort. This time I’m barely lifting at all and certainly not heavy lifting so it should be different.

Its been about 6 weeks since I had the injection, the impingement is still reduced hugely, I have about 80% normal movement, the pain is massively reduced but still using various drugs to allow me to go about my day to day routine. 

The pain is slowly, very slowly increasing, I’m hoping its just settling and it won’t get much worse. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Lidl Shocking Customer Service

I recently realised during the “Beast from the East”, no not Eddie Hall, he’s the “Beast from the East Midlands” that the final day to spend the old paper style £10 Bank Note was the 1st of March 2018, and I had 1 left in my emergency cash stash. I had no plans to go anywhere but did want something in the “Middle Aisle of Lidl” so rather than go to one of the 2 nearer Aldi’s, the nearer Asda and Sainsburys I made the special trip to Lidl which is 3-4 miles away in Siberian weather.

Lidl Logo

Lidl Logo

Upon arriving I looked around, while not specifically looking for them I did not notice any signs telling me they wasn’t accepting the old style paper £10 notes or any indication they wasn’t following the Bank of England’s official line. The official requirement was you accepted them until 23:59:59 on the 1st March 2018. I proceeded to pick up the items I went down for and some other shopping coming to a total of over £31 and headed to the till to pay. At this point I still noticed no signs saying Lidl had stopped accepting them early or anything else. Part way into tilling my goods I checked if I could pay part by cash and part by card as I wanted to use some cash and I was told yes. The chap on check-out noticed it was an old £10 note and said he’s not sure if he can accept them any more and checked with the other check out person who confirmed the same.

I clarified the Bank of England says Midnight 1st March 2018, the newspapers and TV was all quite clear the 1st March was the final day. Both open tills had half a dozen or more people at each queueing several of which agree’d and confirmed today was the final day. The checkout person tells me his manager told him not to accept them, so he’s unable to accept them, sorry. 

I asked to speak to the manager and ask the managers name, which I’m told is Bob (fake name to protect the guilty), but Bob doesn’t have a surname. Because the checkout person hasn’t been there very long so doesn’t know his surname. When Bob arrives I asked his surname as I intended to complain, he declined to give it to me. I asked him who told him not to accept the paper style £10 notes he told me is his Boss; I asked for his bosses name, which he wouldn’t give me. I asked for the store managers name, I needed a name to put to this, which he told it wasn’t the store manager who told him not to accept them so wouldn’t give me the store managers name either.

5 Wheelbarrows full of Pennies

5 Wheelbarrows full of Pennies

I asked to clarify did his actual boss tell him not to accept the £10 note, at which point it changed to head office told him not to accept them. I tried to clarify who exactly at head office told him not to accept them at which point he tells me a piece of paper in the back office with no name on it, and he’s not exactly sure who put the paper there. I pushed further and tells me its a bit of paper which says “sales” on it that’s it. I wonder if I put a piece of paper there which says everything in the store is £1 today, if they would follow that blindly too ?

I explained the BoE situation and that it was still legal tender and it was potentially against the law to refuse the £10 Note, aside from the fact I was a regular customer and I had risked driving in the snow and ice in to a badly gritted car park, wasted my time walking around buying the shopping, queueing when they should have opened more tills, and legally he should accept my payment in lieu of the debt I owe.

For clarity, if I had been told on entry we don’t accept £10 notes, like many shops have signs which say we don’t accept £50 or £20 notes, a shop can refuse to serve you, and thus doesn’t have to take your notes I wouldn’t have bought anything as my only reason for going out was to spend the £10 note. However this doesn’t apply when you owe a debt. In theory, because my goods was tilled through, I owed a debt and this was my angle. I’ll admit its murky ground and not clear cut. On assumption my position holds, I could have paid them with 11 x £1 coins, 20 x 50p coins, 50 x 10p coins, 100 x 5p coins, 10 x 2p coins, 16 x 1p coins which would have been legal tender or any other legal tender including the £10 note.

I learned this from a news story some years ago about a man settling a fine with pennies. The Americans don’t have any such coinage act as referred to in the above story, so you can pay any bill with any amount, such as the man who paid his bill with 300,000 pennies delivered in 5 wheel barrows weighing in at over 750kg.

My issue is, it would have taken less than a minute to clarify the BoE position and accept the £10 as a gesture of good will, instead the store management decided humiliating a regular customer in front of at least a dozen or more other customers was the best course of action.

I visit that store multiple times per week and spend hundreds per month, and the customer loyalty is repaid this way, by cutting off old paper notes in the middle of the biggest cold snap in 30 yrs without any warning, humiliating a loyal customer with no chain or command to supersede. 

Interestingly, Aldi said they was accepting the notes no problem, and they expected they would accept them a little longer than the 1st March 2018 as they have with other money. Sainsburys also confirmed they was accepting the notes but wasn’t sure if they would accept it any longer. 

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, Aldi, Morrisons and some others have officially confirmed they will be accepting the notes beyond the 1st March Cut Off. 

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

New Year, New You, New Resolutions, New Blah

Lots of people have done a year in review but this year has been kinda dull and really slow, it has been eventful so I’m not so much going to do a year in review as I am going to point a few highlights out from 2017. 

L Plate

L Plate

Late last year my shoulder surgery was delayed for one reason or another so to fill the gap I booked a dozen or so driving lessons over the 4 weeks gap between cancelled surgery, after passing my driving theory test first time a few months before. In the theory test I scored pretty close to a perfect score. Only 1 question wrong in multiple choice which still haunts me as I know exactly which question it was. I was also a little slow on one or two hazard perceptions videos but still nearly perfect is good enough. I started my driving lessons towards the end of January. This meant I had driving lessons in the frost, in the fog, in the snow, in the rain and ice and all that’s in between giving me really good all around experience. The worst was stuck in rush hour traffic on a 1/4 mile hill, which moved a few cars at a time, and meant non-stop constant hill starts, which was about my 4th driving lesson so yeah that wasn’t fun. When I passed my test about 4-5 weeks later I had 3 minor faults so my Driving Instructor John Swan did a pretty good job, in a very short space of time and literally just a few days before my surgery. 

Shoulder Surgery

AC Joint Grades I to VI

AC Joint Grades I to VI

My shoulder surgery turned out considerably more complex than planned, originally it was a Rotator Cuff Repair, and AC Joint Repair, it changed something much more once my shoulder was opened. My shoulder healed record fast, I was discharged from physio in just over 2 months, out of a planned 5-6 months. The surgeon wanted to discharge my left shoulder at 4 months, as fully healed and fine, out of an expected 9-12 months. All in all the healing process, very quick for the amount of work I had no one expected it to be so quick.

My return to the gym hasn’t been so quick, the many areas bone was cut away, or ground down was raw and exposed and then left soft and gooey, waiting for the scar tissue and hardening has been a long slow process. It was expected to be 18-24 months before fully healed. I could put some moderate weights on it at 6-7 months, by some I mean about 40% my maximum, where as a month before surgery I could manage about 20% of my maximum. For example bench-press, my max as been around 115-120kg (including the bar), a month before my surgery I could barely move 30kg with bad form, now I can move 50kg for 8, so definite improvement but still long way to go. 

I have done my first actual shoulder work out, including farmers walks, waiter walks, shoulder press, shrugs and upright rows, my grip is screwed, not sure I’ll get that back due to a torn tendon in my forearm and damage to my hand, so maybe stuck using straps and hooks. It has however 100% improved from pre-surgery, however under load when the bones appear to be touching, OUCH!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to squat again, the work on my glenohumeral has almost certainly left me with impingements meaning I can’t get my arms into position. Maybe some yoga or pilates will help, but I don’t know. 

Rich Piana Died

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

For all the controversy, hassle, and fanfare over the Rich Piana crazy train, the man was a decent guy and a powerful inspiration to many. I don’t agree with his Synthol or PMMA or whatever the hell he was injecting to get his crazy size but he loved his fans and had a lot of respect for them. Way way more respect then almost anyone I have ever seen I’ll never forget him apologising to fans waiting while he did press photo ops, or for the long wait to see him, or even when he took his lunch/drinks breaks. 

Not ONCE, did I notice him rush a fan, cut one short, he spoke to them for as long as they wanted, and had a laugh, happy posing with fans, by all accounts he was a rock solid guy. 

The only other person who was equally popular who was a chatterbox was Kai Greene, he was being told off all the time his people for taking too long with fans. 

 

My Year 

Most of my year has been waiting, recovering and planning. Now I’m I’d say 85-88% recovered and able to put some power down on the left shoulder, and I’m not sure I want the right shoulder done. 

I started training again between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so that gives me 9 months out. I’ve lost about 1okg of muscle mass (rough estimate based on my monthly bio-impedance),  and gained about 6-7kg total weight, which is pretty diabolic. About 2 months of that was pretty no gym and comfort eating a lot. I’m getting back on the ball slowly now. 

Diet is horrific to reign back in to boring stuff again, I may need to just go for a crash and go meat, veg, sweet potato, and try reset it. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Worlds Strongest Man 2017 Break Down

I had a few emails and twitter DM’s over the Worlds Strongest Man 2017 post I made, unlike my WSM 2016 I didn’t include the break down of times on the events, I am going to include that below. There seems to be some controversy over the Georgian Bull Konstantine Janashia‘s Traps / Shoulders. 

Konstantine Janashia Traps

Konstantine Janashia Traps

Firstly, Lets talk about the Georgian Bull aka Konstantine Janashias Traps / Rhoms / Delts / Neck / Shoulders, while having traps and /or an upper back that developed isn’t especially unusual for a strongman. All those shrugs, dead lifts, farmers walks, and more all with huge weights will have them explode in size. Having a more pronounced set of muscles isn’t anything especially out there when your body mass and body fat isn’t exact huge comparatively speaking to say Eddie Hall or Zydrunas Savickas. In one of the heats Colin Bryce commented on Zydrunas Savickas power-shelf or power-belly saying its (his stomach) is actually quite bizarre, his stomach looks like its fat but its actually rippling muscles under there. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Peak-Biceps

Arnold Schwarzenegger Peaks

Its entirely possible his traps are just pronounced due to a lower body fat, I would speculate there are some sort injury at play, almost like callous on your hands. All the squats have caused his spine and shoulders to protect themselves. I had this happen on my shoulder, I had a swelling around my AC Joint, which looked a little like a tennis ball cut in half. Its fluid an tissue swelling to protect the bone edges. I would speculate there are a collection of issues all converging in one place for this to occur. Firstly I think much like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “peaky” biceps (Left), or Dexter Jacksons ear warming traps, Janashia just had oddly shaped traps. Secondly his lower than average strongman body fat makes them show up much more, Thirdly all the squats and axles and such have aggravated his spine and shoulders.

This trinity of effects or issues has resulted in the unusual and pronounced shape of Konstantine’s traps.

WSM 2017 Event Breakdown

And secondly here is the break down for each event. 

Event 1 (Debut)
Tire Flip 500kg (6 Flips)
Name Result Points
Brian Shaw 27.28 10
Hafthor J Bjornsson 28.83 9
JF Caron 31.56 8
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 34.52 7
Eddie Hall 35.12 6
Laurence Shahlaei 39.87 5
Martins Licis 39.93 4
Konstantine Janashia 5 Flips 3
Nick Best 3 Flips 1.5
Zydrunas Savickas 3 Flips 1.5
Event 2
Squat Lift 320kg
Name Result Points
Eddie Hall 15 Reps 16 Pts
JF Caron 13 15.5
Martins Licis 13 11.5
Zydrunas Savickas 13 9
Brian Shaw 13 17.5
Hafthor J Bjornsson 12 13.5
Laurence Shahlaei 12 13.5
Nick Best 6 4.5
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 3 9
Konstantine Janashia 2 4.0
Event 3
Viking Press 160kg
Name Result Points
Eddie Hall 15 26
Hafthor J Bjornsson 15 22.5
Brian Shaw 12 25.5
JF Caron 8 21.5
Konstantine Janashia 8 10
Martins Licis 8 17.5
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 7 12.5
Laurence Shahlaei 7 12.5
Nick Best 3 6.5
Zydrunas Savickas 2 10
Event 4
Commercial
Plane Pull
Name Result Points
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 40.07 22.5
Hafthor J Bjornsson 41.10 31.5
Eddie Hall 42.92 34
Laurence Shahlaei 44.12 20
Brian Shaw 47.60 31.5
Zydrunas Savickas 46.73 15
Martins Licis 49.30 21.5
Konstantine Janashia 50.25 13
JF Caron 29.81m 23.5
Nick Best 21.38m 7.5
Event 5
Deadlift for Max Weight
Name Result Points
Eddie Hall 472.5kg 44
Hafthor J Bjornsson 460 40
Brian Shaw 460 40
JF Caron 440 29.5
Konstantine Janashia 440 19
Martins Licis 440 27.5
Zydrunas Savickas 400 18.5
Laurence Shahlaei 400 23.5
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 380 24
Nick Best 380 9
Event 6 (Final)
Atlas Stones 150kg – 210kg (900kg total)
Name Result Points
Eddie Hall 58.74 (5) 51
Hafthor J Bjornsson 28.99 (5) 50
Brian Shaw 40.49 (5) 48
Martins Licis 33.24 (5) 36.5
Mateusz Kieliszkowski 33.01 (5) 30.5
JF Caron 29.41 (4) 35.5
Konstantine Janashia 35.35 (4) 23
Laurence Shahlaei 45.66 (3) 25
Zydrunas Savickas 19.76 (3) 21
Nick Best 26.68 (2) 23

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Worlds Strongest Man 2017 TV

This is the 40th Anniversary of Worlds Strongest Man, we already know the outcome of Worlds Strongest Man 2017, it spread like wildfire across Britain when Eddie Hall brought it home after 24 yrs away, even if there was a little controversy. We can finally watch for ourselves and see what the fuss was about. I’m not entirely sure if Hafthor had been allowed that extra rep, if it would have been a win for him. 

Eddie Hall at Body Power 2015

Eddie Hall at Body Power 2015

What has been clear through the qualifiers and heats has how the sport is changing, looking at the incoming talent is slowing leaner, more explosive and almost as powerful athletes. More interestingly has been those monster power houses of old who have lost a heap of weight and look amazing all lean and trim. At first it appears the price of this lean figure is their raw-power, we all know Mass-Moves-Mass. Lean isn’t really what you think about when you think Strongman, I still find it hard to imagine Eddie Hall was an Olympic level swimmer, but you certainly don’t think CrossFit would go hand in hand with a current Strongman legend. When I heard about such a thing, it wasn’t clear who it was, but I discovered it was Britain’s own, the one and only Mark Felix. I spoke to Mark Felix a few years ago when I heard this rumour, thinking someone was playing a joke on me. Yeah Yeah Usain Bolt is powerlifting too, it just did not make sense. However the British Legend was happy to have a little chat with me at an event and I pondered would his strength and raw power was the price. Initially this did seem the case, but sadly he retired from WSM after ripping the bicep head clean off the bone. Heartbreakingly his year won’t be the year he breaks his own world record 9 appearances in the WSM Grand Final. He was one of many many who this year was taken out with injuries but he seemed to be going well and regaining his lost strength, but we didn’t see his full potential.

Changing Landscape

Kate Errington BodyPower

Kate Errington BodyPower

Another such person is another of Britain’s Legends, Terry Hollands who has lost a heap of weight resulting in an impressive transformation complete with a 6 pack. A huge part of this seems to be from the amazing Kate Errington (Left) kicking him up a gear. Watching the WSM TV coverage of the qualifiers and it was looking a little like that 6 pack may have taken the powder keg of explosives out of him. This trend doesn’t carry over to the actual heats where he’s putting in a killer performance. One of the most memorable was his part in the final event of the qualifiers. Terry recently posted to say he’s getting back the strength he lost and getting stronger all the time. Watching the changes from Qualifiers to Heats, you can see this power coming back for sure, over just a few months.

If you remember Mariusz Pudzianowski was quite lean, so its possible with his new physique he pack a heap of muscle on and come back way more powerful. Speaking of Kate, she won at the Arnolds USA this year, and finally got her long overdue (in my opinion) IFBB Pro Card. Both Terry and Kate are sponsored by Alpha, so certainly worth checking out their products. I’m certainly going to be keeping an eye on that, and should you want to follow in Terry’s footsteps, Kate is available for training/meal plans/etc and is genuinely one of the nicest people I have met. Plus she can breath fire 😉

Raw Power Isn’t Enough

The changing landscape of Strongman is starting to make the mammoth guys a little outmoded, Felix and Hollands could well be ahead of the curve. The advent of Last Man Standing this year saw Matjaz Belsak and Terry Hollands put in some stand up performances, both stuck in my mind. This changing landscape will certainly favour the fitter guys like Britain’s Terry Hollands, Russia’s Mikhail Shivlyakov, USA’s Martins Licis and Poland’s Mateusz Kieliszkowski. The latter three along with the raging Georgian bull Konstantine Janashia are very clearly the next generation of Big Z, Shaw and Hafthor, and Iron Biby maybe the next OD Wilson, certainly the same crazed power. 

Last Man Standing

This new final event of the heats, is basically a 160kg Atlas Stone, which is usually the middle ball of 5, has to be lifted up 4ft 6in and passed over the bar. Each man then has 10 seconds to pick it up, and pass it back. The 10 seconds both starts and ends the moment the stone hits the floor on each side. There is a good sportsmanship rule about about dropping the ball inside the centre square to give the other man a better chance but some didn’t observe this. If the ball rolls around the ring, precious time and energy are wasted stopping it and returning it to the square to lift.  

This new event seemed a little unfair, some of the underdogs really pulled out something special and powered on with a display of impressive performance of raw grit and determination. I would hope this event gets a little more tweaking next year as at least 1 or 2 people who clearly weren’t the strongest survived this, and some who should have won didn’t. As Colin Bryce said all so often, this event gives everyone a fighting chance. I can see some people training almost exclusively for this and saving energy during the main events so take the win here. We saw something like this from Big Z and Hollands, only the latter performed well.

Injury Time Galore

Zydrunas Savickas and Bill Kaz Kazmaier

Zydrunas Savickas and Bill Kaz Kazmaier

This year there seemed to be way way more injuries than normal. One of the heats nearly ended with a 2 man last man sanding, they are supposed to be 2+1+1+1, but one only has 3 people left by the end. Was Mark Felix who ripped a bicep off the bone, another guy did his hamstring, another his tricep. 

Zydrunas Savisckas appears to be really suffering with the spinal/neck injuries and surgery, but appeared to sustain no new injuries in his possibly poorest show to date. 

I can’t remember who it was now, but one guy dropped like 300kg on his shoulder and just shrugged it off. I think we are reaching the limits of the current generation of strongmen. In the past Bill Kazmeier held the World Record for Deadlift in the 300kg range, then Z in the 400s now Eddie in the 500, maybe time for the the new guys in their 20s to take it up a step and pushing to the 600s.

Here’s To The Future

I said it last year Martins Licis (USA), Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland), Mikhail Shivlyakov (Russia), Konstantine Janashia (Georgia) and new man Iron Biby are very bright stars. You can see huge improvements in the former 2, and Konstantine hugely improved especially with the Atlas Stones, experience last year clear gave him the same leg up that Eddie’s taste of the podium did for him. The Russian Marine is impressive, if he carries on and packs some mass on it, he’s going to be a terrifying force in WSM.

I was so hoping Big Z would hit 5x but all those injuries he has came back from, once its your spine or neck, it doesn’t look good. Geoff Capes has spoken many times about the issues he’s faced, the potential is catastrophic. If anyone in the current top tier can make it to 5x WSM, its going to be Brian Shaw. If Z doesn’t perform a miracle, Hafthor maybe getting his shot in 2019 or 2020, no Z, no Eddie, leaves a power vacuum with some impressive new blood waiting to fill it.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Merry Christmas Folks

I haven’t been posting much lately as I’ve been extra busy with real life stuff. About month ago, I was told we would be able to foster a neglected Bulldog, who had been rescued. I don’t really have very much information about the nature of the neglect other than it wasn’t intentional abuse more like ignorance to all the hard work which Bulldogs need to maintain a healthy dog. 

Bumbles First day

Bumbles First Day

Bulldogs require lots of care, which most other dogs don’t require. This begins long before they are even born, almost without exception a Bulldog can’t have a natural birth, they are almost always C-Section born. This is just the start, you’ll find you often need to clean their bottom after doing their business. Their feet need regular cleaning as they are webbed, and prone to infections. The wrinkles and folds on their face need regular and routine cleaning and moisturising, again they are prone to infection. Their nose will often need moisturising with a little coconut oil to stop it cracking and drying out. The tear stains on their face will need cleaning regularly, their chin often needs drying after drinking water or it will go bald. The list really does go on… and on. I’ve only told you about basics of care so far, you still have dietary requirements which is costly and general health stuff with huge bills, not to mention the mountain of insurance. You need to be really really really sure you are ready if you take a bulldog on. 

Foster A Bulldog

Anyway we’ve fostered Bumble (4 yrs old) for a few months, while he recovers from surgery (a result of his neglect). He had his tail, stump, root and all remove surgically which resulted in his bottom pointing upwards instead of outwards. He also had a tumor removed so he was half shaven and and still a little sore when he arrived.

Bumble Bald Chin

Bumble Bald Chin

This meant he didn’t need to recover in a kennel or at the vets cages, he gets to spent Christmas in a house, being played with, and spoiled until a forever home is found. I don’t think your allowed to keep the first dog you foster as they want to get you into the coming and going, so you can give many dogs a chance and a temp home. 

At first he was a little withdrawn and closed down, just seemed almost in a daze, or glazed over. We have had a few set backs, and a few minor concerns but nothing we haven’t been able to overcome.

There has been no growling, no snapping, very little barking, by all accounts he’s fairly chilled and docile. I’d say so laid back if he didn’t follow you around, you’d need to check his pulse so see if he’s still awake.

Bumble in his Bed

Bumble in his Bed

The other dog Barney has accepted him without any problems, they often share a bed, and play together. There is no fighting or shuffling when it comes to food or anything.

A month later he’s bouncy, bubbly, and making his little spot in the house, perfect content. The scars are healing well, the fur has nearly grown back on his bum, his chin hair is growing back too and he seems happy.  

I don’t know if he’s going to end up withdrawn and unhappy again after his next move, but hopefully is next move is into his forever and final home, so he doesn’t have to be passed pillar to post. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

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