Friday, May 29, 2009

Vaughan Town in Zamora

This week started rockier than usual, as there was an issue with the venue in Salamanca so we were moved at last minute to Zamora, I also had a personal issue to deal with; so not the best start. However we sorted what we could and got on with delivering the program.

The hotel wasn't really to my liking. New building situated in an old run down part of the town. The hotel also had an industrial / post modern look and design to it which I'm not sure worked very well. The staff were friendly and helpful but the typical issues of being moved from room to room occurred again.

There were a few strong personalities this week, and although they had a lot of energy and ideas they needed to understand that things are done in a certain way for a reason and it’s a tried and tested method with years of practise that does work if you give it a chance.
The levels were quite low which meant they really needed to work hard to get the most from the program, the higher levels were able to focus on their own weakness’ and it was good to see they were that self aware.

Sadly, I felt like a teacher, having to pull people up for constantly being late and talking when instructions were being given. The time we share together is very short and the Spaniards have paid a lot for the attention of the group and I find it very rude that people can't be where they need to be at a certain time.

The theatre was a little hard on the first day even though the sketches were simple – the Spaniards were looking at it as if it were class even though they were told to sit back and relax.
I know it’s very hard when you know you have a low level of comprehension and want to understand everything, it's the same for me in Spanish. As the week continued and the theatre got harder they seemed to understand it better and maybe even understand the concept behind the purpose of the section.

All in all the week went well and the people enjoyed it but it wasn’t without its problems, what with the initial change from Salamanca, the food being below par
(in my opinion). The food was very repetitive and not offering much at all in terms of variety and to top it all one of the Spaniards lost his iPhone.

The karaoke went well even though it started off slow. As for the party that too went very well as the hotel have a purpose built disco area set up which I took full advantage of: lights, music and smoke! Although it started off very complicated to arrange, we eventually sorted it out.

The photos of the weeks events can be found below

Vaughan Town - Zamora - Program 154

PERSONAL NOTE: Part of my focus this week has been on the fact I will getting to see China next week and what we could do and where we could go, part of the problem with this brand of hotel is the lack of internet access which made finalizing plans very hard which means a VERY busy weekend when I get home.

At the moment I am at a difficult cross roads - I have done Vaughan Town for over 2 years now, but its getting less rewarding and much harder to deliver. Trying to keep a work/life balance is proving more difficult as it doesn't seem to be a priority although it should be - afterall a happy worker is a good worker.
To top it all off, you, your efforts or opinions are not valued by the company, which is making me question the point of continuing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Doctors strike back

The week I have just finished was in Salamanca but at a different hotel; it was still nice but too small really.

This was probably the easiest week ever. On Sunday because of the Doctors not being able to attend the program until 6pm then Richard's speech and then the orientation there was no time to do anything on Sunday.
Monday we had another easy day, due to an excursion that had been planned by the sponsor so we got to do a tour and get to know some details about the city itself.
Then the remainder the program continued as normal luckily, as I really wanted to get back into the swing of work after the break I just had.

The Doctors had been with us before in October with the exception of about 5 of them, so it was nice to see them again and catch up briefly. The challenge for me as usual was keeping it fresh and interesting, we also had several veterans returning to which is always nice to see.

I had worked on a new presentation about lying and it was good to actually put it into practise, I'm pleased to say I also managed to work out who was lying which shows it does work if you know what to look for.
I also used a script that Emma (a good friend) had wrote for me, and after some quick editing we performed it as a theatre piece and everyone loved it! Excellent!
Check out the WEBSITE

I spent several hours editing the photos making a special panoramic one and uploading them, hope you enjoy looking back on them.
As usual the week went very well and Marisa did a great job (this was a hard week for her personally, yet she didn't show it).

As usual the photos can be found by clicking the picture below
Vaughan Town - Salamanca - Program 153

There has been a mistake made which means the next program will be done in Zamora.
So yet another hotel to check out, I just hope that is the ONLY problem we encounter.

Whilst you were all relaxing at home, I am back here, washing, repacking, sorting out some travel arrangements for China's visit and I have just spent 1 and half hours in the dentists chair whilst she tore mouth apart, not pleasant :(
Also cost a fortune, to insult to injury.
I cant speak properly, eat, drink or even kiss, YES POOR ME!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The start of things to come?

China's mom recently gotten in touch and has finally agreed for me to see China!

This is great news and something I hope will not be a one off event. I haven't spent time with her for ages and the last time I saw her was 2 Christmas' ago. She will have grown a lot since we parted as children these days seem to grow up faster every year.

I will show her the sights of Madrid and I will of course post the photos of our time together. Whilst she is here she will also get to see her sister for the first time Ariadna; quite exciting times!

Part of me is suspicious as to her mom's motives and why now? But I guess who cares, as long as I get to see her and spend some quality time with her.
Tickets have been booked and paid for, just a matter of time now - 1st June!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smile for the camera

I have been taking photographs for ages and been interested in photography for quite sometime. However, it was one of those things I would always say, I'll get round to doing it properly one day. Well I guess that day has come. I am now actively looking into photography as a hobby with a view to being more.

I am amazed at the wonderful imagery people manage to capture in a photograph, I know little about the basics, lights and shadows, F stops, ISO etc. I take photos of what I like, of what appeals to me, at the moment I am just experimenting which is the way I learn best, never really been one for theory. I do need professional guidance though, this much I know.

Coincidentally as these things often occur - two of my closest friends have also taken up photography on a more serious note too. So I am hoping to learn from them and share tips with each other as well as our spoils. I would like to show you some of my work so far. Hopefully it will get bolder and improve much more as time goes by as I play around more with my photography.
If anyone has any pearls of wisdom please do share - or your own photo links for that matter.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Back to work soon

Not long now and I will be returning to work after a 3 week break, yes, lucky me I here you say; too long for my liking.

Anyway the purpose of this post is to ask for your help. What I do at my job is teach people English through a variety of mediums such as theatre, jokes, games, presentations, art etc. So if you have ANY ideas about what could be a good topic for discussion, your favourite TV sketch, a wonderful presentation you have seen, basically anything do let me know.

Having just watched the series of LIE TO ME and loved it, I have put together a presentation based on micro-expressions and the art or lying. As a professional magician the psychology behind such things always fascinates me, and as a learning tool I am sure it will also be informative for the Spaniards.

I have worked hard for the past two years finding all types of material but I'm starting to run out of ideas so any help would be appreciated. I have adapted many things from small poems that get sent through global emails to full length scripts for theatre plays and sometimes just an idea is enough, so get thinking... ...please ;)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Spanish life vs my UK life vs my Thai life

I have now been in Spain for 2 years. Do I like it? Yes. But there somethings I just don't get.

Spaniards have no concept of the different between red and green traffic lights. It could be green for you to walk, but I urge you to check for cars before you step foot off the pavement. Spaniards have no idea what indicators are for, and worst of all, they make no difference in their speed during bad weather. (yes, I generalize, but so you get the fact it is the case for the majority)

The UK are more controlled with their driving, they use indicators although road rage had started to be a bigger problem - media hype?!

In Thailand the roads (if they existed) were in a bad state, a lot of dirt track type roads, or tarmac roads needing repair. The driving was awful, a common site was upto 6 people on a moped (scooter)!!

Shopping: shopping is an issue in Spain for me because of the damn 'siesta'. It's nice to have a nap in the afternoon sure, but if you are out shopping and its 2 in the afternoon, suddenly all the shops close and you have to return home and finish your shopping 3 hours later at 5pm. This drives me crazy! It is quite an expensive place to shop and buy property.

In the UK they open at 9am and start to close around 6pm - this is alright unless you have to work - then you have to skip lunch or worse you all shop at the same time: Saturdays! What a nightmare that is. It is a very expensive place to shop and buy property.

The only place that really works to my clock is Thailand. They open their stores around 12ish (noon) then they stay open till 2am and there are markets everywhere and you can haggle etc.
It is SO cheap to shop and buy property.

Gastronomy: Spain, well if you dont like seafood or you are a vegetarian it aint so great. Personally I find Spanish food bland and not exciting. I like spice and curries, Spain does neither :-(

The UK has maybe the best variety of options I have experienced so far. Not only does it offer curry houses of all descritions but you can also buy foreign ingredients from supermarkets to make yourself.
It's funny that the UK national dish is NOT Fish & Chips but Chicken Tikka Masala.

Thailand has wonderful aromatic food and excellent curries - also a lot of seafood, but there are plenty of options and good for vegetarians too.

The weather: Spain is very good in general - nice sunny days, clear skies.

Whereas the UK we are famous for rainy days and grey clouds - to be honest I think their rainy days aren't that bad, but the gloom of grey clouds makes it seems much worse.

The weather in Thailand, wow, like an oven door was opened everytime you step outside. Lovely hot weather, when it rained within 5 minutes you would have never known.

Sport: Spain has bullfighting, personally I have never seen a bullfight and have no intentions on doing so, this is a dying art and less popular with the younger generations mainly because the killing of the bull.

The UK, if you don't count drinking it has football. I have never really being a footy fan, a lot of trouble occurs with football matches whether your team wins or loses.

Thailand of course has Thai boxing. Now this I like! The music, the style, the open gambling - Thailand has 2 main stadiums Lumpini and
Ratchadamnoen, the latter is the best.
Important point to mention: people may argue about violent sports, but rarely do you have trouble after a boxing match, yet after football it's almost a guarantee: why is that?

The people: Spaniards are friendly and will try to help you as much as they can, about 32% speak English, the second language is French. English is now becoming more important due to multinational companies and international business.

In the UK the people are generally too serious, in a rush and not pleasant to speak to. They have far too many accents (about every 40 miles in any direction and the accent changes), the further North you go the harder the accent becomes. The second language is French, not many speak Spanish, in fact not many speak a second language, unless you are foreign.

In Thailand the people smile a lot! It is called the land of smiles and you can see why. The people are very friendly, always talking to you (in order for you to buy something mainly).
They also speak very good broken English. One thing that impressed me was the fact they would assess you as you walked up the street then change their accents when speaking with you.
An example of this would be - if I wore a baseball cap: I was an American, and they would use a bad American accent, if I wore board shorts and sandals I was an Aussie and they would typically say G'day mate in bad Aussie, if however I looked average they would guess British and greet me by saying 'lovely jubbly' or other things like this. (lovely jubbly was an expression on TV by a cockney character: Dell Boy. We don't say that, honest!)
The thing is they are adaptable and have to be to survive, I admire that.

CONCLUSION: I like Spain in general,
I don't miss the UK; just somethings, but overall I love Thailand.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Best job update 2

The winner of the dream job has been chosen, info can be found here surprisingly it's a Brit!

Do you wanna fight?

I am not and have never been a violent sort. Yes of course, I had fights as a child, but never really did anyone any harm even as an adult. I have always been a big lad so size was my advantage in most situations which meant I never had to fight, and when the time came that I did, I would usually use psychology to resolve the situation by saying something like "are you sure you want to do this?", "do you know who I am?" or "do you know what I do for a living?", none of these were said to to be a big head but as a tactic to make my opponent stop and think just for a second. Of course the bully would take that second to finish the opponent off, but I didn't I would simply walk away.

When I was in school I was bullied a lot, outside of school I lived in a predominantly Indian area, which meant as a white person I would regularly get beat up by Yaz (he was the biggest and hardest kid on the street - he had a mustache at 13!). I had to go into that area to deliver papers, so almost daily I would get beat up. In all honesty I never deserved any of the beating except the last one - I decided enough was enough and when they approached me I asked what the f*ck had I done this time, and I stood my ground, needless to say I got my ass kicked again, but this was different, I stood up to them and it never happened again.
I would of course return home and my mom would see me and say "you have been fighting" and I would get another beating from her.
My home life was full of violence so I REALLY don't like to fight to hurt, merely for fitness, sport and entertainment.

I understand the discipline required to partake in these art forms and trust me, they really are art forms. I studied Kung Fu, Karate, Kickboxing. I also practised a little Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. When I was a personal trainer I was able to train people in self defense and work them out with Boxing drills using a Tae Bo style approach.

My love for the Martial Arts came from my childhood I guess.
My very first Martial Art film was Enter the Dragon I went to a friend of my step dads (Steve) and he was watching it on TV and I was amazed, we had to leave so I didn't get to see it all, but I recall not wanting to leave.
Bruce Lee has always been an amazing individual for so many reasons and always will be one of my all time heroes. I bought some Nunchuka's as pictured above when I was about 12, I had them for a week and then sold them as my head and body was black and blue from swinging them around not knowing how to use them properly and Bruce making it look all to easy!

Then of course during the 80's NINJA's were everywhere. I must have seen every ninja film produced and most were awful; but I couldn't get enough. My favourite ninja was Sho Kosugi who was also the only real life ninja.
Throughout the 90's
Jean Claude Van Damme shown up and WOW!!! He was amazing, his ability and skill. My favourite film of his was Bloodsport, because of the sheer range of Martial Arts skills involved and the fact it was based on Frank Dux's life story.
I managed to get a signed photo from JCVD; yes I went that far!
Sadly later in his career he lost my respect by disrespecting women and using cocaine (allegedly).

Others that impressed me with their abilities were:
Mark Dacascos, his best film if you like Capoeira was - Only the Strong (in my opinion).
Jackie Chan, of course - his best film was Drunken Master (in my opinion). I have been a huge fan from way back and his early movies with Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung are a must see for Martial art fans. Sadly since he has been so desperate to break the American box office he has let his ideals slip - he swears, he uses blue screen and now lets Hollywood dictate to him, all of which he claimed he wouldn't do, pity!
Jet Li, amazing, very skillful fighter - his best films were Shaolin Temple or Fist of Legend (in my opinion) - he has taken some weak roles since, shame!
Gordon Liu - Classic Shaolin fighting films - his best was 36 Chambers of Shaolin (in my opinion) - he played in MANY Shaolin films and they are great to watch
Tony Jaa - Amazing Thai fighter with lethal knee blows - his best is Ong Bak 2 (in my opinion), he is surely going to be massive - great to see Thailand getting in on the Martial Arts action as Muay Thai is awesome. When I was in Thailand it was great watching Muay Thai fights and the atmosphere and music was electric.
Steven Seagal - this Aikido master started off well, but I think his ego or lack of acting skills ruined his chances of making it big - his best film was Hard to Kill (in my opinion).
There are of course many more people and films - but I wont go on - this is already an epic post.

Whilst growing up I learnt about all sorts of arts and their strengths and practicalities.
As a kid I never took any formal classes - I wasn't allowed, as my parents thought it would make me violent. All I wanted was to know how to protect myself and get discipline.
The discipline came from home whether it was needed or not.

Later when I was about 14, I took some Karate lessons, they were ok. Then we moved again so they stopped. Later when I was 16 I took up Karate again, as now I was living on my own having moved out of my parents home.
I took this for a while and enjoyed it. I got to Blue belt although we never fought all we did were kata's and practise moves. In fact the first time I got into a 'proper' I threw a punch and 'pulled' it (means didn't make contact), the guy flinched for a second then relaised he hadn't been hit so went at me again, this time I made sure I connected. He never tried again.

I left this school after taking my brother (Punch) there, he was tall and skinny and very harmless, but was curious. We stood in line about to start the drills, when the instructor walked over, he asked my borther "what was that?". Punch replied, "erm its a watch". "Take it off" said the instructor, he then took it in his hand - read the front which said SHOCKPROOF. "shockproof is it, lets see" he said and hit my brother on the head with it.
Of course my brother got upset more from embarrassment than pain, I'm sure.
Yours truly was far from happy and I used several expletives asking what was he playing at being such a prick. The instructor responded saying something honestly I cant recall, my blood was boiling - NO ONE hurts Punch. I squared off to him, he laughed.
In my head, I kicked him right in the mouth - in reality, I was grabbed by another student.
I got my belongings and Punch and we left; I never returned.

When I practiced Kung Fu we did spar and did enter competitions - my best was called the British Open Martial Arts Tournament, in which you fought people from all styles - as I stated in my previous post I was a 92kg's which put my into the (open) heavyweight category.
So we go to the weigh in and in walked the biggest mutha you have ever seen (Arnie look-a-like I swear to you), the room went quiet I asked the guy behind me "who's he?" The fella said "what weight group you in", I told him the open, the fella responded by telling me he was the open champion! OMG!!!! Suddenly I felt sick.
Luckily I never had to fight him. It turned out in the final it was him against one of his classmates. The fight started, the class mate got in a few taps the 'arnie lookalike' then clipped him with an uppercut - they fellas jaw broke on both sides!
The big guy broke down in tears - I was amazed, he was actually a gentle giant.

As for my fight I managed to get the bronze medal - I had done well up to this point was due the silver as I was a point ahead, but I figured one quick kick to this guys head and its over.
I flicked my foot up and..... .....thin air??!?! He had dropped to the floor and swept my foot from under me, then hit me as I went down putting him ahead on points by one.
DING went the bell, the rest is history.
The guy who went through instead of me is the guy who's jaw got broke so I aint so unhappy about that.

The problem with these types fights is they are run OK, but not great or properly. It's mainly folks giving up their time to be judges and to organize the events, which are usually held in sports clubs during the weekend. Also there isn't a professional body organizing these events, so each one you attend is different.
You also get some real egotistical assholes to. All they want to do is hurt you - for me the points are enough, the sport, the adrenaline but others just want blood.

I have always enjoyed the Ultimate Fighting Championships this is what the martial arts scene needs to stop fighting going underground - not exclusively, but thanks to movies like fight club several little clubs popped up where people really got hurt. Here they can fight and its a controlled environment with proper conditioned fighters choosing the risks they take, yes of course it can be dangerous but so is driving around a race track at 200 kph.

Men, more than women, have always needed things to compete over. From Gladiators, to football, to the Olympics. We are always competing with each other to see who's the best.
The UFC is regulated and is growing rapidly due to the rise in Mixed Martial Arts and with more of the UFC fighters breaking into movies and the movies becoming mainstream this will make it even more acceptable I guess, the same happened with Hip Hop.

One fact is boxing appears in more films than any other sport, that in itself says something.

The style that I like currently is Krav Maga which was developed in Israel. It is used mainly by the army and police. It is extreme and a very fast close combat style. The thing I like about it most is it is really a survival technique, it is not about fighting.
If you must, you will hurt your opponent, but the idea is to get away from the situation.

Well I hope that enlightened you somewhat and don't fear I'm a lover not a fighter.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The time has come

OK, its arrived! My birthday that is - woe is me!

At least I can play with my monkey and so can you, just touch it, go on...

Although a word of warning be careful what you wish for!

I looked at myself long and hard and realized it's ME I don't like (shock, horror)!
Not the inner me, but the outerside. So I am going to change that.
I currently weigh too much - 16 stone (102 kgs) - which means I'm clinically obese (sobs in a corner).
When I was fighting about 10 years ago my weight was 92kg (still too heavy), I was the lightest heavyweight, which meant I moved faster than they did but they hit harder, and I would have to fight some huge men (as anything over 90kg was open weight).

The best weight I have been is 13.5 stone at this I looked and felt good - although the doctors claim 11.5 stone is my optimum. I personally know that just wouldn't suit me or my body type.
I'm a endomorph - that means I will always be big - I can accept that, but the medical charts we still refer to are over 60 years old now, they need updating.

So I will start a program to get fitter and healthier and I will keep my loyal readers informed as to how it is progressing on a monthly basis. When I used to work as a personal trainer I would design a 12 weeks program, then change it to keep the body working hard and not plateauing as it gets used to the requirements of the exercises.

So my wish for this birthday is a simply one - by next year to weigh less and look and feel better than this year.

Día de la Madre

Mommy, I know you love me
By the way you show you care.
You hug me and talk to me softly;
When I need you, you’re always there.
Mommy, I’ll love you always
From my heart, I want to say
I’m so glad you are my mommy;
Happy Mother’s Day!

From My Fav Pics

Friday, May 01, 2009

Just For Laughs

My Favourite A to Z's

Below is a list of some of my Favourite things, from A to Z

Author: Paulo Coelho

Beverage: Malibu (with milk, pineapple or coke)

Cologne / Perfume: Diesel

Dessert: Cheesecake

Electronic Device: My Mac laptop

Food: Curry

Game: Metal Gear Solid

Hobby: Martial Arts

Ingredients as a pizza topping: Barbeque Chicken

Job (you've had): Personal Trainer

Kind of breakfast: Bacon butty

Living or dead person: Bruce Lee

Movie: Rocky

Novel: The Alchemist

Organic Produce: Potatoes

Program on TV: 24 (at the moment)

Quote: Be the best you can be

Relaxation Method: A massage

Song: Wonderwall

Time to wake up: As late as possible

Unusual Talent: Magician

Vacation Spot: Thailand


Xperience: Birth of my daughter

Yoghurt: Banana

Zodiac Sign (your own): Taurus
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