Monthly Archives: July 2010

Do electric sheep dream of hybrid cars?

Up until a few weeks ago I thought electric cars were the stuff ‘of the future’. That is to say, not ready now. Then I read about the Nissan Leaf. This seems to be a car which is pretty much of the now. It looks modern -but not weird, Performance seems good, Range is.. well… OK? 100ish miles is that enough? Is it? My car travels about 50 miles to work and back each day. So, no problem there. My parents live about 100 miles away, a journey that I’d do non-stop. A little bit touch and go for my liking. Could I make it? In the winter? With air-con on? -at least if I could make it there is a charging station only a few miles from them.

So, not perfect but not clownlike in the lack of practicality as serious transport. Renault have some interesting designs and share some tech with Nissan. Top speeds limited to 80mph and range of 80-100 miles again. Slightly under-par I feel.

Mitsubishi have the iMiev which looks.. okayish performs acceptably but costs way over the odds.

Even with 5k from the chancellor and no road tax its taking the piss somewhat.

Finally. The car I’d been waiting for. Looks, performance, range. The lot. Even the price was lots less than expected.

The car? The Tesla model S.

Looks slightly Aston Martin-like. Large, swooping, beautiful. And all for $50k. Or so they’re saying today.

Is the leaf or the ‘S’ car going to be the game changer, the ipad of the EV world? Are we entering the next, and long overdue phase of automotive evolution?

I’d like to think so. Internal combustion is so last century.

Look around the eyes… final bit

A while ago I wrote the first two parts of this blog concerning hypnobirthing. Well, at 11.15pm Friday our daughter was born. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Throughout the course and in discussions over the past several weeks we’d been imagining what the birth would be like; calm, quiet, peaceful. Reality often gets in the way of plans. On the day of the birth my wife went into labour at such a rapid pace all thoughts of ‘setting the mood’ seemed to fly out of the window. The birthing pool was rapidly filled and the Mrs jumped into it as soon as possible.

There was no time to go through the long (and sometimes giggle-inducing) hypnosis scripts. No time to prepare the ‘deepening triggers’ which focus the mind on things other than pain/discomfort. Basically, no time to do much that was planned.

I can’t speak for the level of discomfort encountered during the contractions but I can comment on the lack of Holby city-like theatrical screaming. No nails dug into flesh. No swearing and telling me to keep away. The sounds were lower, quieter, more controlled than TV leads you to believe.

The midwives arrived and came into the birthing room (or kitchen, as we call it the rest of the time). At this stage the contractions were rapid and strong.

All of a sudden, the baby’s head appeared, in the next push she was out. Medical interventions -nil. Doing it nature’s way -one. Incredible. Amazing. From the rapid, controlled labour, to the self-delivered baby quite an experience.

How much was to do with Hypnosis, and the focus on relaxed breathing, I can’t say. It would be unscientific to declare this a victory for Hypnosis and alternative techniques. It is, however, a victory for doing your own research and finding out that accepted medical practice is often better for the Doctors than it is for the mothers. -Lying on your back is, short of a hand-stand, about the worst position to deliver a baby. -Useful for the medics who wish to intervene, but anatomically awkward to deliver a baby. The birthing pool allows the mother to be more upright and thus have gravity on side and the pressure of the water as a support.

Look into my eyes, not around my eyes… (part 2)

I’m a lazy blogger. Well, at least I think that is what my teachers used to say to me at school.

The hypno-birthing course is finished, we’re just waiting for the birthing bit to commence.
Was it any good? I guess the proof is in the pudding, as they say. So I can’t comment on whether it works as a birthing technique.

What did I think of the course? Interesting and weird.
Interesting because a lot makes sense. Birthing *is* a natural process so why should it hurt? Nothing else we do naturally hurts like birth is said to (being a bloke I can’t comment on exactly how it feels).
Weird because it is dressed up in a lot of, well how can I put this? Mumbo-Jumbo/Bollocks/ ‘Woo’.
I am pretty certain that the ‘magic’ is in the suggestion and the relaxation. The surrounding stuff about the mind vibrating to a certain colour and the body vibrating to a different one is just arse. Gently spoken arse with the aim of relaxing you. Unless you actually listen to it rather than hearing it. I found it just made me cross.

Our homework from the course was to practice the range of techniques shown to us and let them become more effective. It is the link between suggestion and response. Action and reaction. The more it is done, the more efficient it becomes. So every night (well, every three nights) (ish) we sit down for a training session. The Mrs certainly looks relaxed after we’ve run through the drills. Until she sniggers because she too finds some of the woo distracting.

It really is a ‘not very me’ thing to be involved with and I do find it strange. We’ve all seen Paul McKenna or Derren Brown doing unusual things with suggestible people. It does appear to be true, and there are some research papers discussing the use of hypnosis in surgery.
I’d like to believe in it all and it will be fantastic if our second child is brought into the world without surgical intervention, medical poking and too much grief. We shall see.

Look into my eyes, not around my eyes… (part 1)

Yesterday I went for my first session of Hypnobirthing. (Stop sniggering! You at the back, I can see you).

This was both unusual and a first for me. The being a ‘first’ is self-explanatory the being usual for several reasons:
1)I’d never done it before (see ‘being a first’)
2)I’m somewhat sceptical about such things
3)I’m neither a woman nor pregnant

My wife satisfies both criteria stated in point 3 above and it was at her request I attended.
We went in to the ‘classroom’ where there were 2 other couples seating, quietly browsing the literature provided for the course.

It all looked very official, the room was laid out like oh-so-many small conference rooms throughout the world (lacking a water cooler though). A laptop and projector beamed a Powerpoint onto a too-small patch of wall at the far side of the room, with the plug-sockets interrupting the corner of the image.

Our teacher/tutor/course-leader/insert title here, a lady called Karen introduced herself and said that we’d not be hypnotised to believe we were chickens or that we were married to potted plants or things of that sort.
I considered leaving at this point, but thought that I’d be in trouble with the Mrs if I upped and went.

The explanation continued that the course was about being able to force onseself to relax (not sure that sounds correct or possible) during the labour and birth. A short video was shown of a Russian lady (also a midwife) giving birth in a transparent birthing pool with the greatest of ease. I’ve struggled harder on the toilet -if that’s not too much information. (Shame you can’t delete from your memory things you’ve read isn’t it?)

Anyway… The focus of the lesson was on relaxing by counting backwards from 5 and focusing attention on different zones of the body 5-head and neck 4-shoulders, arms and upper body 3-lower body (the important bit for pregnancy I guess) 2-upper legs 1-below the knees.
As previously stated, I’m somewhat sceptical about ‘alternative’ medicine (alternative meaning ‘made up’) but I do enjoy a good relax. After closing my eyes, breathing slowly, I began to feel more relaxed. It didn’t seem magical, but it did work. I was more comfortable, almost sleepy and drifting off into my imagination -this is not usually a relaxing place.

Karen had told us (in the way its always done, I imagine) to think of relaxing things, peace and tranquility. I think my subconscious has a more bizarre sense of humour than my conscious mind as I began to imagine a shed. I wanted to imagine the solitude of a mountain peak, or a faraway lake. Nope. Sheds was all I got.
Trying hard not to giggle, I decided to go with the flow and got into my imaginary garden tool store. This did the trick. Off I went deeper on flights of fancy. But my subconscious was determined to outdo me once again as I was transported into a world of election fever (possibly because of the hours I’ve spent reading manifestos, claims and counter-claims recently).

To recap, I am in a room with a 50% population of pregnant women. Another (non-pregnant) woman is instructing us all to chill-out. I imagine a shed for a while and then I get Nick Clegg and David Cameron -no Gordon Brown though.

The lesson ended shortly after this, after a 5-10 minute spell of desperate filler from Karen. (Being a teacher I can spot when someone is waiting for the bell). The lack of questioning from the audience had left a gap at the end of her lesson and as it cost us about £200 for the privilege of being there I guess she wanted to make it seem worth the cost.

I shall update this blog in a week or so after lesson 2

Shiny new blog

I wonder of I’ll ever have anything worth reading…