Gotta get to the snow

It’s snowing in Val Cenis and I’m getting excited about going skiing in January.

Image result for snow in val cenis

I’m also scrounging up my money to pay for it, and wondering if perhaps there is a cheaper way to do things.

We’re staying in the Centre International de Sejour, and paying €559 each for seven nights. By the time we add in flights and transfer and ski hire, we’re looking at around €800 each.Image result for CIS val cenis

A bus just went back the window of McDonalds saying, “Dreams do come true, a ski holiday for €345.”

Damnit, have I overpaid?

I logged on and found the €345 holiday, four people sharing a self-catering apartment in Chamonix. That’s a good deal. What is included? Flight, transfer and apartment. So I need a lift pass. €222. Not the worst. Wait, that’s the senior pass, the regular one is €261. And that’s only the local pass. The Mont Blanc pass for six days is €309.

Skis and boots. Let’s go for the cheaper option and get the intermediate ones. €119.

Insurance is €37.

So we’re up to €810 already. And that’s before we’ve eaten or drunk anything.

The price in Val Cenis includes all meals: breakfast, four course lunch, three course dinner and wine on tap. (Literally – there is a tap in the dining room where you go up and fill your jug with red wine). And the lift pass.

And the apartment in Chamonix is a kilometre from the pistes. In Val Cenis you can ski to the door of the ski room.

Yep, feeling a bit better now.

Roll on the snow.Image result for husky rolling in the snow

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75 Days to skiing, let’s get fit

 

With thanks to the Telegraph, how to get fit for skiing.

Find the perfect knee position

Watch Octopus Clinic video 85 shows the knee position exercise in more detail.

Find the perfect pelvis, hip and back position

Watch Octopus Clinic video 84 shows pelvis, hip and back corrections in more detail.

Build leg strength – quadriceps

Try these drills: Step downs and split squats are both great ways to work quads in the ski/snowboard way. Use the posture exercises above to make sure you stand correctly as you do them and start with 30 repetitions. Then add weight gradually, by holding weights – or if exercising at home, by wearing a backpack containing tins of food for example. Work the muscles to fatigue, then take two days off so they to recover between workouts.

Don’t, however, bother with sitting against a wall squats – they can lead to skiing with weight too far back. For snowboarders they can make it harder to turn on the toe edge.

Watch Octopus Clinic video 30 for step downs and 23 for split squats shows these exercises in more detail.

Build leg strength – gluteal muscles

Try these drills: First is the clam exercise. Lie on one side with hips and knees bent. Keep ankles together and lift the top knee, then lower it again, like a clam opening and closing. Hips and pelvis should not rock backwards as you open the knees, and you should feel the muscles working on the upper side of the buttock. Repeat 30 times on each side then practise a similar movement in a standing position, so you learn to use the same muscles in the way you would on the slopes.

Second is the wall ball exercise. Stand with a wall at your side and a long mirror in front. Put a ball between knee and wall, then twist both knees out slightly as you lift the foot on the ball side up behind the same knee. Push yourself away from the wall gently using the knee, keeping shoulders squarely over hips (no leaning). If you feel an intense sensation in the outside of the buttock furthest from the wall you’re doing it correctly (stop if you feel pain anywhere else). Next, bend and straighten the knee ensuring the knee stays in line with the second/third toes. Repeat until you can no longer maintain the alignment or sensation in the buttock. Aim for 30 on each side, but it’s better to do a few reps perfectly than many with poor alignment.

Improve propulsion

Why do it? Once you’ve built up strength, it’s time to move onto propulsive movements – being able to propel yourself into the air is particularly important for off-piste steeps and moguls.

Try this drill: Jump sideways onto then off a step, starting with a low step and gradually making it higher, always making sure position is perfect of course.

Watch Octopus Clinic video number 34 shows how to do propulsive exercises.

Improve spacial awareness

Try this drill: Stand on one leg with eyes closed for two minutes twice a day. When this gets easy, add some small movements, such as little knee bends or brushing your teeth. Hover your hands over a stable surface, so you can grab it if you lose balance.

Watch Octopus Clinic video 72 to progress and do exercises on an uneven surface like the ones on a wobble board or squashy disc.

Train heart and lungs

Ski fitness: squat jump with lunge jump

Try this drill: Cycling or using a step machine works some of the muscles used in skiing and snowboarding. Aim for three to four 20 to 30 minute interval training sessions a week, working harder to increase the heart rate for two minutes, then working less hard to drop it right down for a minute before doing the same again, throughout the session. Remember to build up the exercise slowly and incrementally.

 

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That bathoom battle is back

When North Carolina passed the infamous bathroom law, which prohibited trans people from using the bathroom of their perfered gender, it caused so much protest that it seemed like a dead duck.

President Obama weighed in and said that federally funded schools could not prevent trans kids from peeing in the right bathroom.

But now it’s all coming back, and with the Trump/Pence combo announcing they are going to repeal as many of Obama’s laws as possible, in particular about LBGT rights.

They are convinced that the country is full of evil trans woman who are really men in a dress who are going to assault their daughters in the bathroom.

The irony of Trump complaining about evil men going into a place where young girls are getting dressed…..

I’ll just mention the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting. While they are worrying about trans women (who ARE women, even if some of them stand up to pee) going into the women’s bathrooms and want them to use the men’s bathrooms, that means sending all the trans men into the women’s bathroom.

Men like Buck Angel

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Or Laith Ashley

trans-man

Or Loren Cameron

trans-man-loren-cameron

 

Or Eli Perry

trans-man-eli-perry

I could go on, with so many pix of hot trans guys, but I’m trying to behave.

Just bear in mind that when you insist trans people use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth gender, you are not only sending women into the men’s bathroom, you are sending some seriously hot men into the women’s bathroom.

Just saying….

 

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Pockets are a feminist issue

Pockets are a feminist issue.

I found the perfect pair of trousers in Penny’s recently. Black velvet, long enough for my legs, and most important, with pockets. I got home, tried them on and they were comfortable and flattering. So I went right back to Penney’s to buy another couple of pairs.

Grabbed them off the rail and took them home in triumph. I was sorted for the next six months.

Put one pair on this morning and discovered they didn’t have pockets. Only the first pair did. Still, they looked good, felt great, so no problem?

Until I picked up my phone, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some cotton wool balls (we have a badly trained lurcher, don’t judge) and headed down the stairs. First problem. No pockets meant my hands were now full, and I was going down the stairs without being able to use the bannisters. And that badly trained lurcher had left hair brushes, a hot water bottle, a pine cone and a couple of plastic bottle strewn on the stairs. I did make it downstairs safely, but only just.

And throughout history, this has been a factor for women. It’s not too bad now, when we can wear trousers, and stairs are built with steps all the same size, but for a woman in a long skirt, it’s essential to have a firm grip on the stair railing or you risk breaking your neck. And if you have anything in your hand, you have to chose between holding your skirt up, or holding the railing.

Hence the necessity for pockets.

Every woman is aware of how difficult it is to get clothes with decent pockets. Even jeans which come with five pockets, tend to have ones so small that they are fashion details and totally useless. “Putting anything in the pockets will spoil the line of the garment,” the fashion guru says. “You don’t want to look lumpy, do you?”

jeans-no-pockets

Actually, I’d put up with a few lumps if to be able to carry my wallet, phone and keys in safety.

Oddly, men don’t seem to have the same problem. Lumps are not a deterrent to masculine pockets. They have pockets that can hold their stuff, as well as a decent hanky, and if you are American, even the odd hand gun.

One of the funny things at fetish events is seeing men coping with the lack of pockets, often for the first time in their lives.

Even babies’ clothes have better pockets than most women’s clothes.

iphone-6-in-womens-jeans-pocket-1

It’s not just a minor inconvenience. It can put women in danger. Everyone has to carry the same stuff – phone, money, credit cards, keys, perhaps medication, tissues, a comb, a pen. Nothing big, but all stuff that’s necessary. Without pockets that will hold those items, you need a bag. This effectively means that women are functioning with one and a half arms, since keeping hold of the bag takes attention.

A bag which holds your valuables is a magnet for thieves. So you have to be aware of security at all times. You can’t just walk through the streets, swinging your arms and enjoying the exercise. That bag is makes you a potential victim.

When you go shopping, you have to mind your bag. Trying on shoes while minding your handbag, that’s fun. In a cafe, you have to pull out your special little hook to hang your bag under the table in case someone tries to steal it. And don’t get me started on what it’s like going dancing in a club….

Notice how men don’t have this problem. They put their stuff into their pockets and off they go.

suit-with-pockets

It’s interesting that the clothes which are deemed most feminine and attractive rarely have functional pockets, while the ones that do, cargo pants, dungarees, overcoats, all have butch overtones. Opting for the functionality of pockets is almost an admission that you are opting out of femininity. You’re sacrificing desirability for practicality.

Except it’s nonsense. So demand pockets. Refuse to buy clothes that don’t have decent pockets. Don’t let some idiot’s vision of fashion restrict your life.

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Things not to say to a parent who lost a child.

baby-coffinShe’s in the best place now.”

No. No matter how bad things were, how horrible the disease, the best place for a child is in her parents’ arms.

It was meant to be.”

No. Sometimes the most terrible horrible things happen for no reason. Trying to find some sort of divine meaning in the death of a child is just adding torture to the pain the parent is feeling.

You’re young, you can have more babies.”

Next time you are at a funeral where a woman is burying her husband, tell her that she’s young, she can go dating again, there are plenty more potential husbands out there. No? You don’t think that would be a good idea? So why would you think it’s acceptable to tell a parent they can replace a dead child?

At least / be thankful”

No. There is no way to reduce the grief of losing a child, and trying to downplay is just makes you look like a dick.

Time heals all wounds.”

It doesn’t. If you lost a leg, time does not make it grow back. Losing a child hurts worse than losing a leg. The pain never goes away. The best you can hope is that you learn to live with it.

I know how you feel.”

Unless you are a bereaved parent, then you don’t know. Losing a parent or a pet is not the same. No matter how much we love them, we know that we will outlive them. No parent expects to outlive their child.

What you can say

Nothing. Give them a hug and be there for them.

Tell me about her.”

You are not going to upset any parent by talking about their dead child. You’re not going to remind them, they will never forget. They do want to celebrate what they had of her life.

I remember the time…”

Share your memories. It helps.

I brought pizza / I’ve hung out the laundry.”

Life goes on, and food and laundry are necessary. Don’t say, “I’m here if you need anything.” Instead, offer to do something specific.

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Anna Karenina, or the Wicked Woman

I went to see Anna Karenina in the Abbey Theatre last night. As I expected, it was a stunning play. The scenes were lighting swift, the snow was copious, the actors were beautiful. And every male character in it was an entitled prick.

anna-karenina

In case you didn’t know, the story is billed as “The impact of one woman’s decision” and revolves around Count Vronsky pursuing the beautiful Anna Karenina who he saw once at a train station. She is married with a son she adores and  she ignores Vronsky. But he chases her for a year, and eventually she gives in. He is ecstatic, she becomes a miserable social outcast. Eventually she throws herself in front of a train and everyone lives happily ever after.

It’s all about Anna and her bad decision ruining everyone’s life.

But no one is talking about Vronksy abandoning the girl he was about to propose to to chase after a woman who is not interested in an affair. Every second word out of Anna’s mouth is about her son. That doesn’t stop Vronsky chasing her, because she’s beautiful. That’s enough to justify his behaviour, right? Boys will be boys. He ignores her protests because he’s so in love with her, and even when she succumbs and becomes his mistress, he still ignores anything she says. She tells him she’s afraid of her husband who is violent, and he tells her she’s wrong.

Eventually, he starts courting the Tsar’s grand niece, and his charming mother comes to tell Anna that she’s in the way and suggest that she throw herself in front of a train. So handy, those new trains.

As soon as Anna is dead, everyone else goes on with their lives.

Vronsky is clearly no prince.

Neither is Karerin, Anna’s husband, who tells Anna that if she sees Vronsky again, she will never see her son. He does own all her children, so he can do that.

Her brother Stiva starts the story by getting caught screwing the governess, and can’t understand why his wife wants to leave him, so Anna is called in to talk deluded Dolly around. Did I mention that Stiva screws anything in a skirt and is squandering Dolly’s fortune as fast as he can?

I had some sympathy for Konsta, who seemed like a shy culchie type, until he produced his diaries which revealed that he is fucking all his serfs (slaves) and has had babies by thirteen of them. But they don’t count, it’s all about how heartless seventeen year old Kitty is by rejecting him. How dare she have a choice?

But no one says a word about the behaviour, ethics or morals of the men. It’s all about Anna’s fall from grace.

There were some wonderful moments in the play. I loved the doctor telling a labouring Kitty to “Push as if you were trying to shit a turnip.” But I couldn’t help noticing that every woman who had sex, even if it was sanctified by the marriage bed, ended up almost dying as she gave birth. Or had to pay for her sin by watching her children die.

Except evil Anna, of course, who had done the unthinkable and learned about contraception.

Anna Karenina is fresh in my mind because I’ve just seen it, but it’s the same pattern in stories and plays all over the world. Men can do whatever it takes to seduce their chosen mate and it’s all good, but as soon as she falls, she’s the evil temptress, unless he is good enough to marry her. Otherwise she should die.

Of course, if she resists him, then she’s clearly evil because she doesn’t care that his balls will turn blue and fall off, so she deserves to die.

Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina in 1873. Things are different now. Except they are not.

Love Actually is more of the same. It’s all about what the men want, and any woman who gets ideas or has anything to say ends up dead. One of the love objects in the film literally doesn’t get to speak, but that’s okay. The best women are silent.

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If Men Breastfed…

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