Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Adverts and giving in to media pressure!

Every so often when we are watching something on some channel on the TV, PBS America I think it is, there pops up an advert which drives us crazy. A lycra-clad young woman on an exercise bike screams into her headphone microphone something along the lines of “Come on, Peloton!”, followed by very urgent instructions. We both wince, Phil throws a hissy-fit about how he really can’t stand this advert, and we turn the volume down or even channel-hop until we think the adverts are over.

So we never discovered what this is an advert for.

Then I found an article in the Guardian Weekend Magazine all about exercise bikes. There I read put that “Peloton sells smart, connected exercise bikes, to which it streams spinning classes from its Manhattan studio”. The bikes, which incorporate big touch screens, cost £1,990 and riders pay £39 a month to access the classes. So people set up sort of mini-gyms somewhere in their home and “spin” at home instead of going to a class. Then there is “Zwift” which lets users pretend they are following a route, such as going up the Alpe d’Huez, one of the really, really hard stages of the Tour de France. Oh boy!

We have an exercise bike and a rowing machine. Together they came nowhere near £1,990 to set up. Yes, it can be a bit boring perhaps to sit for ages on an exercise bike. This is where the iPad can be really useful. I usually just play music but Phil sets his up to play chess videos for him. It seems to work for us.

It’s funny how fads come and go.

How long will Peloton keep going? I wonder!

I sometimes go on a bit about my Fitbit but I mostly do it tongue in cheek, although there was a moment when Phil and I seemed to be getting a little competitive about who had done the most steps in a day - usually me, by the way, because I go up and down stairs a lot and move around the house a lot during the day. Also I have usually clocked up 5,000 on my morning run. But I am always amused by the analysis of my sleep, telling me how much deep sleep, light sleep and dreaming sleep I have had, not forgetting the time awake in the night!

It’s a good job I am amused by it because, from what I have read this weekend, if I took it too seriously I could become properly insomniac. Apparently some people are getting so anxious about what their various sleep trackers are going to tell them that they really begin to suffer from insomnia.

Oops! there it is again, that influence that social media and related apps can have on real life.

There are more serious things to worry about in modern life. I just listened to a programme on the radio where a young medical doctor talked about her experience working, and being overworked and overstretched, in emergency medicine. She is about to emigrate to Australia, I think, where she will work with the flying doctors service, where there will surprisingly be less stress. Emergency medicine in the NHS is her first love though and she expects to return to it sometime in the future. That assumes, of course, that there will still be a NHS to return to.

And I found myself thinking how wrong it is that dedicated doctors and teachers in this country, people who have a passion for their profession, are being forced out because the pressures of the job make a normal life impossible!

And now here is an odd story I came across the other day, a story which I find hard to believe:-

“It was May 2006, and I had just been swimming. I was on my way from my home in Hastings to work as a revenue executive for HMRC. It was raining hard, and the visibility was terrible. I was crossing the road when a white van drove into me and I fell, hit the side of my head, and rolled under a parked car. I have no memory of it. In fact I didn’t remember anything from a year before the accident until four years afterwards; I began to work out what had happened to me from what other people told me.

I was in an induced coma for three weeks in the neurological unit attached to Haywards Heath hospital. The medical staff tried to bring me out of the coma after about 10 days, but it was too early. I’ve got no medical notes about my time in hospital, but my family and friends were there every day. My coma was marked grade 3 in the Glasgow Coma Scale: the deepest one you can be in but still be alive; luckily I didn’t need brain surgery.

When I started coming round I was moved to my local hospital. The strangest thing was that the first words I spoke were French. A friend asked the nurses whether he should speak to me in French; they thought it was a good idea, to encourage communication. So he would ask me a question in French, and I would reply in fluent French. No one knew why, but I had done both German and French at O-level almost 30 years earlier.

After a while, the doctors decided speaking French was not helping me, because I’m English. So posters were put on the wall asking people not to speak in French.

Before my coma I’d never heard of foreign accent syndrome, which can occur when people wake up from a coma and their speech is affected; people sometimes perceive it as a foreign accent. What happened to me is different, because I really was speaking French, and not just for a few seconds – for two weeks.”

Why don’t I quite believe it? Well, to be fluent in a language you need a bit more in your memory than the stuff you learnt for O-Level thirty years ago. It sounds like a load of stuff and nonsense to me!

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