Recent Entries

Online Roulette – a game of chance?

roulette wheelAs I may have mentioned, I’m not a big gambler and previously I have stuck with blackjack at UK casino online as I feel like I have an impact on whether I win or not – after all I get to choose when to take a card and when to stick with what I have. However, thinking about it logically makes it clear that blackjack is still mostly luck, even though I feel like I have a little control over the outcome. A friend of mine plays roulette online and says there is a system if you are patient and stick to it, and you can guarantee a win. Really? I found this unlikely but heard him out and gave it a go.

The strategy

Some of you may have heard about this system before; start with a single pound (or stake unit of your choice), bet on red or black and away you go. If you lose then you double your bet and play again, continuing to double each time you lose until you win, at which point you return to the original stake unit and repeat. For each cycle of betting you will profit by your original stake. I did the maths, and this is indeed true, as long as you follow the rules religiously you will win your stake unit each time; great in theory as it sounds like a guaranteed way to win, but would it work in practice?

Playing the game

I decided to give it a go. Playing with a stake unit of one pound I placed it on red and span the wheel and I won. Great, a one pound profit quickly and easily. The next spin was not so great, I had to keep doubling up to 16 pounds before I got the win, and this gets a bit scary as it feels like a lot to risk for a single pound of profit; theoretically you would potentially need unlimited funds and be willing to risk a lot for a pound of profit, and I am not willing to do this so get quickly disillusioned with the theory and return to the blackjack table.

This is a fail safe way to make money in theory, but in practice it is not quite that straightforward; you can be up to the point of risking 16 pounds in just 5 losing spins, and each spin is totally independent so losing 5 times in a row does not make you any more likely to win the next spin. It is also possible that you will get to the maximum stake on a table and have to stop, which will lose you a whole lot in one go.

I wouldn’t say I’ll never play roulette again, but this guaranteed win strategy is too good to be true, as is the case with most failsafe gambling theories.

Never had it easier – too much help for school children?

There is always a lot of talk about children who are under pressure at exam time getting so much help from their parents or teachers that they end up doing the work for pupils themselves. The internet is a great resource for kids to do research and learn without having to buy a book or get them from a library, and there is so much information in one place. These days you can go online and find a sample essay or a simple to follow example for pretty much any piece of coursework that is assigned  – so is it all too easy?

I don’t think that it is, but in my opinion, methods of assessing children and their capacity to learn and reason need to be altered to keep up with modern times. Rather than getting them to just learn facts and figures, which can generally be found with a quick search, we should be teaching them how to sort the reliable sources from the unreliable ones and that not everything on the internet should be taken as fact. This is an important skill in modern times; any one can post anything online without having to cite references or sources, and in many cases it is the opinion of the writer rather than a factual account that is the first result to pop up on a search.

Learning to sort out a credible source from a less reliable one is a hugely useful skill, and knowing what sources to trust will really help the children that are realistically more likely to believe what they read on the internet that what their teachers or parents tell them, especially if any kind of celebrity is involved. There is also an important safety angle in this; just because you are chatting to a person who says they are your age and a friend does not mean that they are in reality.

I’m not saying that children should not be taught facts and figures, just that they should also be taught to question what they are told and use common sense to evaluate the quality of the information; I believe this is a vital skill for anyone, and there are lots of adult out there who would also benefit from learning that just because something is in black and white it is not necessarily a fact.

Cruising in a camper van

My mate Pete and myself are in a strange situation; we both have a significant other for the first time in a good few years, and as they get on almost as well as Pete and I do we decided to all go on holiday together this summer. This may sound like a great and simple idea, but we have very different ideas about destination, and as the discussions progressed it became clear that we were not going to agree. It was beginning to look like we would all be going away separately, when someone (I’d like to claim me) came up with the idea of renting a camper van and visiting a variety of places. Genius.

We decided to base our tour in Europe, and we each chose a place to visit and then came up with a route that would include a few other places that were on the way between our chosen destinations. The camper van itself turned out to be fairly expensive, because my idea of a VW classic camper was overruled on the grounds of space and reliability; apparently if we all had to spend that much time so close together I would return single and friendless, that is if I wasn’t left by the side of the road in a remote French village.

It is quite amazing what you can get in a mobile home these days; ours will have running water, shower, full oven facilities and even a television if we want – although this is still under debate. There are plenty of campsites across Europe that accommodate the large vehicle and if necessary we could just park up anywhere; sounds like the perfect flexible holiday. All we need to do now is decide who will drive first; we’ll all be taking turns and the navigating will be satnav in the name of preserving relationships. Should be a great holiday!

Considering a triathlon

I love my swimming, and recently I’ve been considering branching out on the sporting front and having a go at a triathlon. Swim, cycle, run for varying distances depending on how hard core you want to be; I’d be starting small, if I do indeed start.

There is more equipment required for a triathlon that a simple swimming competition; obviously a bike is needed but you also have to have a helmet, and shoes, and some kind of outfit that lets you swim, then cycle then run without chafing when you are still wet from the swim. There are a lot of choices to be made, and apparently the right bike is important; so I borrowed one from a friend to give cycling a go. I’ve not been out on a bike for many years, and had fond memories of freewheeling down hills with the wind in my hair; these are now shattered by the need for a helmet, inconsiderate drivers and all the hills I seemed to come to being ones that went up.  Cycling has changed!

I calmed down a little and gave it another go; cycling along a local tow path this time which was much more relaxing and actually enjoyable; however I think I’ll be giving the triathlon a miss, at least for now. I haven’t even tried the running as yet, but have a feeling I’ll like it less that the road cycling. I think I’ll stick to the swimming and probably get myself a bike for purely leisurely purposes, a gentle pedal along the canal to the pub and back is the perfect pastime on a sunny Sunday, and ideal for dog walking too.

Think before you buy – especially if you are buying a boat

A friend of mine has just bought a boat.  Now this sounds a little crazy, but he actually lives by a lake and it is only a small boat for fishing, and generally a bit of messing around in.  He isn’t some kind of playboy with a yacht or two in Monaco, even though he wishes he were!  Buying the boat was straightforward, and everything went smoothly until it came to the delivery charge.  The company he bought it from was only about 20 miles away, but their delivery charge is standard across the country and it seemed a ridiculous amount for the few miles they would be going, so my mate said he’d pick it up himself, and they said fine.

That’s when things got complicated.  It turns out that transporting a boat, even a small one, isn’t as straightforward as you would think.  You need a special boat-shaped trailer and so on, and he really hadn’t considered this, the fool.  After ringing around a few friends, surprisingly none of whom had a trailer for a boat, I remembered a previous occasion when I had needed a car transporting.  I’d found this equally difficult having bought a car without any tax or MOT from the other side of the country which, to be fair, makes me just as foolish as my mate.  I’d managed to find somewhere that would pick it up for me, but it made the cost of the whole thing a lot more than I’d intended when I bought a cheap banger from the internet with the intention of tinkering with it.

I guess the moral of the tale is to think before you jump in with both feet, especially when you are buying something huge, impractical and probably that you will be selling again shortly (the car sat in the garage untouched for a few months before I stuck it on eBay at a loss).

Taking a holistay

As we are English, I am using the phrase holistay as a stand against the all-pervasive staycation, which is definitely an Americanism.  Regardless of what you call it, staying in the UK is a great way to take a holiday.  We have pretty much every holiday activity you could possibly want.

Now, you may be thinking that that a beach holiday in the UK isn’t going to match a beach in the Caribbean, and you’d be correct.  There are, however, a whole load of other benefits of a beach holiday in the UK, namely everything else that you can see and do, as well as having to travel less, which is definitely a bonus.

The UK has beaches, mountains (sometimes even with snow!) moorland and grassy plains.  It has a whole host of history, from Stone Age times right up to nowadays, with some of the greatest cutting edge architecture in the world.  We have a huge range of food to try.  Pretty much every culinary style is represented somewhere, and I defy you to find a deep fried Mars bar or pizza anywhere except Glasgow.  We have stories and tall tales, kings and queens, wizards and ghosts.  Everywhere you go there is something to discover, and a native who will be happy and proud to tell you all about it.

I love getting out and about in the countryside, but haven’t really toured everywhere properly, and I think it will take me the rest of my life to do so.  I’ll make a start on my next holiday, probably just driving about and seeing where I get to, or maybe I will try the classic putting a pin in a map.  It’s a holiday choice that not enough of us make and we really should think this through.  Where else could you surf one day and ski the next?

Should swimming be taught to kids in school?

swimming poolThe short answer to this in my opinion is yes, it should.  There are loads of benefits to learning to swim, not just the exercise but also the confidence and safety aspects.

  • Safety first.  Being able to swim is an obvious benefit safety-wise in a number of situations. Slipping and falling into a lake, river or canal is a possibility for anyone; especially kids playing around near water, and the ability to swim can save their life or that of a friend who needs help. Holidays abroad, where there is no lifeguard at many pools, will be less stressful for parents who know that their kids can swim.
  • Exercise.  With kids in the UK becoming more unfit and overweight all the time, teaching them to swim could really help this problem as swimming is good cardiovascular exercise, as well as being safe for growing children as it doesn’t put stress on their joints.  Swimming is a fun activity and kids can take up all kinds of water based sports which also extends the range of exercise that they can get involved in, thus helping with weight and fitness issues.
  • Self-confidence.  Being able to swim can really help a child’s confidence; it is a skill that they have and they will feel happier and safer around water.  It is also a fun activity for all the family, and can lead to all kinds of activities.  Everyone is good at something and the more opportunities you have to try different things out as a child, the more chance you will find your niche as you grow up.

Swimming is a great activity.  I take my niece and nephew along as often as I can and we always have a great time, both at the big activity pools and at a local swimming pool.  That’s another advantage.  Swimming is a really cheap activity as most areas have a local pool supported by the council that will offer either free or reduced entrance fees to local residents.  The advantages of swimming for children and adults is huge, so it is definitely a skill that should be taught in school, but until it is, take your kids along for a swim and get them started on the right track.

The online dating game

Online datingBeing single and looking for the perfect person, I’ve given online dating a go a few times, but I’m not sure it’s for me.  I have friends who have had success, and there is always a happy ever after story to be read, but my experience so far hasn’t been that great.

I find it hard not to judge people by their photo, but at the same time I don’t want to chat to people with no photo, they really could be anyone and that is just too weird and scary.  I wouldn’t want an opinion formed about me based purely on my looks, but at the same time I obviously want to meet someone that I find attractive.

So, what is the answer?  I’d say if you are going to try online dating then treat it as a shopping experience and don’t take it to heart if people don’t respond to your approaches.  It may just be one tiny thing in your profile that puts them off.  I know that I’ve written off potential girls online, based purely on something as minor as the fact that they like reality shows; probably stupid on my part, but I just don’t think we would get on.  I expect people would do the same to me if they found out that I don’t cook.  It isn’t personal, just going for the odds.

I’m not giving up on the online dating thing, just trying to remember that if I don’t get a response when I approach someone I like the look of, they probably aren’t the right person for me.  And it is definitely their loss anyway!