Exclusive Discounts on Workwear for my blog readers; discount code CJT2K14

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I’ve teamed up with the guys at Total Workwear Ltd. to provide anyone who uses the discount code CJT2K14 during their order a 15% discount for a limited time only.

 

http://totalworkwearuk.com/

 

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Weight Loss – An Idiots guide continued…

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I’m going to share with you one of the things that I’ve found to be useful on my weight loss journey so far, and probably one of the most crucial elements to the success of any long term shift in ‘diet thinking’.  For me, doing this will not only prevent you from over eating but will also train the mind not to eat unnecessarily.  I believe that doing just this one little thing will slice a good quantity of calories of your intake per day.

So what is it?  The obese among us will know that we often find ourselves eating not because we require energy  or because we are hungry, but rather because it’s enjoyable and It’s fun, it makes you feel good.  When you place a nice slice of the finest cheesecake in your mouth, the brain releases all sorts of feel good chemicals which reinforce and validate the experience as a good one.  It can become addictive.  For instance, sweets or candy as my American friends call them, trigger a massive sensation of enjoyment and pleasure.  It’s clearly something we enjoy and we continue to eat more and more as the sugar rush continues.  This is just one example, you may find comfort in eating biscuits, cakes or drinking cola drinks, you alone know what where you Achilles heel is to be found.

The key; to train yourself to recognise when you are hungry (when you need food, when you need energy) and when you are just pining for that enjoyment of sugars, salts and fats. Distinguishing between the to and then making it a conscious effort to either say; ‘I’m not hungry, this is just a craving for the things I do not need right now’ or ‘I’m hungry I’m going to have a small portion of the right things for my body’ will create the right paradigm shift in the direction of a thinner healthier you.  Programme YOU to be the best you can be.    You deserve it.

I’m not a medical professional, always consult with your doctor prior to starting any weight loss program.

If you play Nekomination YOU’RE AN IDIOT!

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Drinking games can be good fun.  They can break the ice and encourage everyone to get to know one another a little better, breaking down the social boundaries and generally encouraging a sense of fun and enjoyment.  But when, ‘haha you drank with your left hand now you have to drink two big gulps of your beer’ turns into, I dare you to down a litre of Vodka on camera in 60 seconds, the line in the sand, for me, has been crossed.  Welcome to Neckomination.

For those of us who don’t know a thing about ‘neckomination’ its a truth or dare style game, not including any truth, but lots of dare, with a key ingredient… alcohol.  I’m no killjoy, it’s great to have a few drinks, let your hair down and make a bit of a fool of yourself, but when your life becomes so obviously at risk then the fun stops and reality hits.  Take a look at this;

The format is, you’re dared to drink – in some cases – a litre of vodka (yes a litre, not a double or even a triple), and to do it on camera, often shot with the handy camera phone, and in some cases to do something at the same time such as strip in the supermarket or allow friends to spit booze from their own mouths into yours while sitting in a bath half naked.

If that’s what floats your boat, great.  You can get on with it, I’m a believer in our rights to do to our own bodies as we wish.  But what I object to is propagating this ludicrous notion of fun to the masses who will inevitably be influenced by this silly game and engage in the copy cat antics, in turn risking their own lives.

Death is a terrible thing, but preventable death is an extremely terrible thing.  Yes, young people have been killing themselves playing this awful game and the death toll grows almost everyday.  I once told my grandfather that I only did X because so-in-so did it.  His reply was profound, ‘if so-in-so put his hand in the fire you’d do it to would you?’.  Looks like my grandfather has the right idea, let us hope that enough of us have had similar words of warning to avoid this supremely stupid game of death.

NO AMOUNT OF FUN IS WORTH YOUR LIFE

Reality check here;

Loosing Weight – An Idiots Guide, continued…

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As I understand it, there was a time thousands of years ago, when man was in a constant battle to conserve energy, mainly because calories were scarce and we knew it.  We would struggle to hunt and gather the resources we needed to survive, food was uncommon, and the body became very good at storing any extra energy we could get down us as FAT.  The body knew that we could use the stored fat when we could not find any food and it would keep us alive.  It was a life saving mechanism. We are therefore, genetically predisposed to holding onto fat because of our– ‘there might not be food available today’ – biological nature.  A wonderful safety mechanism.  But, an obsolete one.

But here’s the snag, our environments have changed dramatically and in so doing, so has the food supply.  There are very few places in the western world were there is a serious food shortage.  The antithesis is actually true. There is an abundance of food energy available to us.  Our problem is not obtaining food, but rather choosing which foods to eat.  The sexy burger covered in calorie ridden cheese and mayonnaise, stacked tall with all the extras or the prawn salad with sunflower seeds and a light dressing?  Here we find the modern dichotomy.  One word sums it up.  That word is CHOICE.

I do not believe for a moment that we find ourselves obese by accident.  We are the result of things we put in our mouths day in day out.  We are fat because we have chosen to be.  We have consumed too many calories often by eating too many calorie moderate foods or worse still too many calorie dense foods.  Once to often do we find ourselves in the queue for the easy option, quickly prepared, full of flavour generated by sugar, fat and salt.  This is what’s killing us.  No longing the bear in woods hunting the hunter, but the mindset of our generation that settles for easy, cheap, quick and tasty.

A well known motivation speaker once said, that the difference between where you are and where you want to be is what you do.  And never has a truer word been spoken.

More tomorrow.

Weight Loss – An Idiots Guide – Part One of….

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Since 2007, I’ve struggled with my weight.  Up and down like the proverbial yo yo.  Despite this, I still know what it is I should do to lose weight.  I don’t need the aid of a group, a book a special product.  It’s really quite simple, if your a man you’ll be looking to consume no more than 2500 calories per day and for the ladies 2000.

If you consume this amount and do no exercise whatsoever, you’ll not gain nor lose any weight.  Your body will actually burn the 2500 calories (if you’re a man) sat on your pretty little ass.  Thinking, blinking, changing the tv channel, the beating of your heart and the tune of your fart all require energy.  Even thinking, breathing and sitting down all require these 2500 calories.

3000 calories chalks up at around 1 pound of body weight.  It would follow therefore that if you consumed 2600 calories per day over the duration of 30 days you would gain one pound in body weight;

2600 calories x 30 days = 78,000 calories 

Because you have consumed 3000 calories more than your requirements (male), which is 75000 calories per month, you will have gained 1 pound.  It follows the reverse is  true;

2400 calories x 30 days = 72,000 calories

There is now a caloric deficit of 3000 calories, we know that 3000 calories equates to a pound of body weight.  We know that we have consumed 3000 calories less that the bodies basic 75,000 caloric requirement and it follows that we will lose one pound of body weight over the month.

All this holds true… and without any exercise whatsoever.  We’ll talk more tomorrow.

Ode to Christopher Hitchens

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On December 15th 2011, Christopher Hitchens was gone. Oesophageal cancer had completed its wickedly destructive objective. Just over two years later I often find myself thinking about Christopher and the enormous admiration I have and held for him, his writing and particularity his vehement atheism.  Author, polemicist, social commentator, debater, journalist and contributing editor to a long list of publications, particularly Vanity Fare, he was somewhat of a personal hero.

If you know anything about Hitch you’ll know that he was no stranger to controversy and that he didn’t suffer fools gladly.  To that end, he was an extremely dangerous debater who daringly dismantled arguments with devastating effect, served with a Hitch-salad of candour, irony and wit.  His ruthless approach most often did not call for even the slightest increase in the volume of his voice, embodying the picture of pure composure and unfaltering calm, while articulating his arguments and criticisms beyond the highest echelons of the spoken (and written) word.  It was both captivating and inimitable.

Christopher’s most powerful weapon were undoubtedly his words and his opponents knew it, ironically he had a ‘god-like’ command of them and performed the most beautiful linguistic ballet you could wish to hear.  He never shied away from a debate.  Tony Blair, John Lennox (for me the best apologist alive today by far) and William Lane Craig all received a lashing of the Hitch tongue which I’m sure they will remember admiringly.  Nobody made Hitch look the fool.  He was way too good for that.  I was particularly struck (and completely in awe) by the truth that even during his last days, when the cancer was finalising its work, where many would have packed up their tents and gone home, he continued to debate, write and make public appearances, continuing to inspire and explore his ideas constantly.

Someone once described being with Hitch as ‘never without a dull moment’ and my experience of reading some of his work, listening to him speak and watching his debates, this rings true above all else. When it came to argument, he was fearless.  When it came to cancer he was brave.  And when it came to writing he was genius.  I miss him dearly.

The incredible talent known as The Vagabond Union

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The best kept secret!

It’s fare to say that music has an amazing amount of influence on the conscious of our society; most of all though, it can make you feel part of something, which for me is one of the most incredibly exciting things about it.  Lately, I’ve been listening to lots and lots of new music from essentially undiscovered artists.  There is a lot of crap out there fused with a strong dose of delusion and irrational ambition to wade through and after the ear ache of 300 tracks I had discovered no buried treasure.

“At a time when solid, old-fashioned rock & roll is becoming harder to locate in the glut of bearded indie folkies… this is an independent act that has no problems swimming in mainstream waters”

About to stop digging, I found myself listening to a record called ‘If You Wanna’ by a band called The Vagabond Union.  For the first time in ages I felt a deep sense of connection to a record that I had not felt since I was in my teenage years.  I listed to the track over and over again thinking to myself, and pardon my French, ‘this is f**king outstanding’. Wondering why this band had not been snapped up by a record company quicker than Jack Sparrow could say ‘pirate’, the answer remained elusive.

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JUST CHECK THIS OUT!!! IT’S UNMISSABLE!!!!!

I was compelled to get involved with the The Vagabond Union in some way and immediately contacted them to request an interview and permission to post about them.  I was completely honored by incredibly talented Dave Hedemans humble down to earth approach to me and requests for an interview were.  We then carried out the following interview… X had marked the spot…

“”The Motel Sessions,” a two-fisted wallop of rocking Americana.”

So… who are the Vagabond Union? The Vagabond Union is made up of Dave Hedeman (Guitar/Vocals), John Kenney (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Cannon (Drums/Percussion) and Dillon Partin (Bass).

 I have to say, I really enjoyed the track ‘If you Wanna’, what inspired you to write it and what’s it all about?

Essentially the song is about coming to terms with oneself and accepting oneself despite what others think. It’s about being comfortable in ones own skin, which to me is something everyone struggles with… or at least I do. At the time, I was noticing a lot of noise, judgment, and criticism getting spewed out into the world from every direction. Between the talking heads on TV, and the know nothings engaging in the social media conversation, passing judgment has become America’s new favorite past time. How to live, how to be, who’s right what’s wrong… it gets pretty exhausting. So the song is kind of a big “Fuck You” to that cultural mindset. People are far more complex and each individual experience is completely different. So I think on some level it was my response to that.

So has it been your most popular track so far?

I’m not really sure to be honest. I know “If you Wanna” is one of our favorites to play because of it has more of a rock edge to it. “Blue Shoes” and “Drive” are getting some solid response too. But I think “Not Coming Back” has had the biggest effect on people. It’s a super personal song about the loss of my father and the last conversation we ever had. I think on the surface it comes across as another soft ballad, but once people put it into context it takes on a whole new meaning. Either way it turned out better than we ever imagined it could…we are all pretty proud of that one.

How long have you guys been together and how did you come to know one another?

This band has been together for a little over 3 years now, but John (Kenney) and I have known each other for about 20 years. We lived together briefly while we were in college and bonded immediately through music. At the time I was in my former band and already touring and John was looking to join a band while also spending a lot of time overseas. In 2000 my band broke up and I walked away from playing music and moved back to WashingtonDC. At that same time John returned to DC, from Australia, to starting touring with his former band until about 2006 or 2007. It was in that band where John met our drummer Dave Cannon.

In 2010 John and I reconnected. John had moved to Charleston, SC and had been working on some songs that are actually on the record now. I had recently moved to Carrboro, NC and had begun to write music again myself. We live about 5 hours apart from each other, so initially we thought it would be difficult to get something going. About 2 weeks later we said “fuck it” and met in a motel room halfway between where we live to write some songs together and see if we could make it work. (Hence “The Motel Sessions.”) The weekend went well, so a few months later we were in the studio making a record.

While we were recording we brought Dave (Cannon) in to play drums and we asked him to be in the band immediately. About a year later we picked up Dillon (Partin) as our bass player after he responded to an ad I placed. Dillon messaged me saying “I’m your bass player”… and after we heard him play, that was that.

 I love the name ‘The Vagabond Union’, how did you come up with it?

We liked the idea of a band made up of guys who had been around the block a few times. It’s in our nature to travel so we thought Vagabond was a good description of ourselves. The Union portion has two meanings. The first is the obvious union of four good friends. The second meaning is a little nod to where John and I grew up around WashingtonDC. We both live in southern cities now and love the southern culture and the style music, but we are both Northerners by birth, therefore part of the “Union”. It’s a bit of civil war humor. Finally we added the “The” every great band has a “The” before the name. Hence – The Vagabond Union.

Who are your musical influences and how have they inspired your music?

Man, there are too many to count. I think on some level we all came up as Rock & Roll kids. If you were to ask all of us you’d get four completely different answers. Everything from Metal to Punk to Folk music and everything in between. I’d say some of the current artists that inspire us are bands like Son Volt, The Drive-By Truckers, Social Distortion, My Morning Jacket and Dawes to name a few. But that doesn’t even really scratch the surface. I think at the end of the day for us it’s all about the songwriting. We are inspired by bands that not only have a great sound but also know how to lyrically craft an honest and beautiful story. That’s where it’s at for us. It’s not about guitar solos and showing off, it’s about writing a song that makes people feel something.

 What has been your most memorable moment so far as a band?

We’re such a new band, so essentially we are starting over from the ground up. But recently we were included in this really cool festival in Charleston, SC called the Spring Jam Music Fest. It was a really great line-up with artists like the Mowgli’s, Family of the Year and Ed Sheeran. I think we were one of the only unsigned bands on the bill, so it was amazing just to be included, especially since it was only about our 10th show we played as a full band. We met some really great people and everyone was very complimentary.

What do you hope the future holds for TVU and where would you like your music to go?

Currently, we are focusing our efforts into putting out our next record sometime before the year-end. We have a lot of new material that we are excited to record. Once that’s out we’ll shift focus back playing more shows. If all goes well we’ll continue that pattern.I think the goal for this band is to keep it going as long as we can. We made a decision when we started this band to not really worry about what comes next. We’re not trying to prove anything. We are doing this because we all love making music and crave that connection we make with each other and the listener. If we gain any success or recognition along the way, that would be awesome, but it’s so far down on the list for us. We’ve been doing this long enough to know how lucky we are to be able to share our music with anyone and are grateful that people like it. All we want is to put out a great record or step out on the stage and leave people going “where the fuck did these guys come from?”  Doesn’t matter if its 3 people or 3,000 people. We’re good either way.

I would highly recommend checking out The Vagabond Union.  My Favourite track as you have probably worked out by now is If you Wanna.

Also the official Vagabond Union website at; http://thevagabondunion.com/

Like them on facebook at; https://www.facebook.com/TheVagabondUnion

Or on twitter if you prefer;

https://twitter.com/VagabondUnion1

Also check out their Reverb Nation page; http://www.reverbnation.com/TheVagabon