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Merry Christmas 2020

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This is the first Christmas message I've written for this blog, but it's been a unique year and I suppose is deserving to be uniquely addressed. As we wrap up after Christmas and are about to celebrate the new year, let's discuss a few topics of interest to me.

Review

This is a review of the year from my perspective with some topics that seemed to be major themes for me.

Health

This year I made the decision to really attempt a diet and improve my health. After the lockdown I was ordering food each day, both costing me a lot of money and making me heavier. My health before the lockdown wasn't exactly perfect, but after it had become worse and it was severely affecting my ability to do basic tasks.

After passing my visa medical check by the skin of my teeth (somehow with grade A health), I decided to do something about it. I remember being very nervous about it - it really could have gone either way. People around me (almost everybody) had suggested I so something about it, but it was only really when I had the numbers in front of me that I could no longer lie to myself.

I had heard about the Atkins diet years ago from my grand mother, and whilst she did not have much success with it, she did say that it worked. I had then heard some good feedback about the keto diet, and having after read up on the Science of the diet - I had to agree that it made sense and was worth attempting seriously.

In late September I started getting myself into ketosis, and by late October I was on a low/very low calorific diet. Getting started was very hard and I had many problems, my body hated every moment of it in the beginning. But now I have reached stability and I can look towards the next stages.

I planned to lose 40kg before Christmas, but as I feared, I have only lost 20kg (reliably). This is only just over 3 stone, bringing me to 23.6 stone. Whilst I feel much healthier and generally am doing much better, at this rate it will be a very long journey. By June (6 months), losing 0.25kg per day, I will be at 105kg, or 16.5 stone - which is still not fit enough to do the activities I want to do. Some changes will have to be made in the new year.

COVID19

Well, COVID certainly made this year an absolute shit show. They will be talking about this in the history books, probably wondering how it was handled so badly. We've let people die, let people go hungry, let people get depressed, removed people's rights - and so much more. It of course hasn't been the worst possible case, but it wasn't far from it.

I was very lucky to live in New Zealand during this time, where the lockdown measures were done quickly in the spread and was successful. NZ's population density is low, it was winter at the time of the spread so people generally didn't want to go out, it's geographically out of the way and they had the benefit of seeing how bad things got in other Countries.

The panic due to the virus was very real, even here in NZ with such low cases. Shop shelves were empty for basic items, people were avoiding each other as if it was the apocalypse and not even looking each other in the eye. With low information initially about the virus, I found even myself being overly cautious - avoiding going out (for shopping or exercise) and washing my items when I got home from shopping once every two weeks, jumping in the shower. I still have a few bags of rice stored, just encase.

Eventually people calmed down and we were "allowed" back outside again, as the rest of the world continues to battle the coronavirus and the super-spreader version with some 70% more spread rate. As I type, we're at over 80 million cases world wide. The UK is now back up to 50k cases per day - much more than the first wave that started March (with a peak of 8k cases) and the second wave in September (with a peak of 34k cases).

As we get closer to new years eve, it doesn't seem like things are likely to get any better soon.

PhD

My PhD has been mega unproductive in terms of progress and I fear I am burning my last good will. My health has really impacted me badly in multiple ways, slowing progress down considerably. I suspect I need until the end of 2021 in order to complete this and ideally need to show major improvements over the next month.

Brexit

It's finally over! We have some form of a deal at last minute and we can now begin the process of separation, for better or worse. It has been a hell of a long journey, although everybody still needs to be very aware of what is going on in terms of trade deals and people taking advantage of the situation.

US Election

I really thought Trump would win, but as it turned out, Biden won. I really suspect that postal votes benefited him greatly, as well as a very biased mainstream media campaign. For example, whilst Trump was campaigning for re-election, the media were blasting him for creating "super spreader events". Meanwhile, whilst case numbers have increased much further, the media are praising the celebrations for the Biden victory.

It was Project Veritas that got onto a mainstream news media video call and overheard them talking about burying Biden scandal stories to help him get re-elected. I think Project Veritas can sometimes be too quick to jump on a story, but in this case they simply caught them outright acting against the interests of the people. There are still many discussions to be had about the laptop, his daughter's diary, the various business deals around the world involving his family, etc. There has been very little coverage at all on these subjects.

China

They are acting more and more like an empire with global ambitions each day, I really suspect this will come to a head at some point. They undeniably have concentration camps setup for Muslim people and have enslaved Tibetans, are threatening every Country around them (India-China border skirmishes, Taiwan, etc), have made artificial military islands, have forcibly taken over Hong Kong and generally look towards screwing over every other Country they can.

I think the point at which the world reacts will be the same point as world war two, when they personally feel threatened. For example, Britain only got involved because they were threatened after France was lost and the US only got involved at the very end because they had to. If China pick one Country off at a time (say over the course of 50 years), the world may not even react in time. I generally think that the Nazis only failed because they had too many fights on too many fronts.

China really needs to be recognized as the threat it is to our current way of life and we need to break reliance on them for every material good. The pandemic had one silver lining, being that Countries realized that they couldn't rely on China for items they needed like PPE and medication, if China felt like they needed it more. In fact, Chinese people living in other Countries actually shipped all the PPE out of Western Countries, only to later sell it back to them at a much higher markup.

The CCP is not a team player and aims to become dominant at any cost, internally or externally. The time to act is now, but I suspect most people are asleep at the wheel.

Goals

The following are my goals for 2021.

Fitness

I of course want to continue on my journey of becoming healthier, it's not even a choice at this point. I want to see my family again with my head held up high and with a promising future awaiting me.

I was lucky enough to go on a speed boat the other day on a beautiful lake - and it was good fun. That said, I had a reminder that I am still severely overweight, when I struggled to get a life jacket to fit me. The situation was quite embarrassing in an otherwise great day. The irony is, quite a bit of the fat I have on me is ready to go anyway - it was become very soft, meaning it comprises heavily of water.

There's a look that people give you when you're overweight - I can't describe it other than perhaps to say they think something like "oh", like a feeling of resignation or something. It hurts more than somebody saying something, because it's the real feeling that they have and can't hide from you. I hope that in the near future I can change the impression people have of me.

Travel

After seeing some of New Zealand, I really want to see more before I leave. If I have the funds, I want to do a few more trips. Perhaps I will buy a cheap tent and camping gear, grab a bus and go visit some random places. I looked up the local laws in NZ, and essentially unless otherwise stated, you can camp anywhere.

I saw Mount Cook for the first time - it's beautiful. If I can get my fitness up to scratch and get some experience, it could be fun to climb something significant in the area. I'm not sure about climbing, but doing some trail could be a lot of fun. Technically, I did do the best part of a mountaineering leadership course (other than the end test), so I should at least have a leg up from the crowd of complete amateurs.

Many years ago I used to run half marathons on the weekend, I would like to get back to doing that, it used to be good fun. I'm quite far out, but July wouldn't be completely impossible for me to do such an activity given I really put some effort in. Ultimately, I need to up my exercise and drop my intake. It's going to be really hard, but I think it's possible.

RoboCup World Cup

The world cup for RoboCup is in June 2021, France, Bordeaux. The chances of it happening are slim and the chances of getting funding are equally slim, but it doesn't stop me wanting to try. If there is a RoboCup happening, I will move heaven and earth to try and get at least myself there to attend, even if it comes out of pocket.

There are so many projects I want to see completed for the RoboCup project. I have awesome ideas for vision and walking for example - that really need to be implemented. Everything I have seen in the last few years tells me they should work. I just need more time.

PhD

This really needs to be done to 100% on weekdays from now on. I think the massive change I will make is to travel into the office and work there. I'll even use my low-end tablet, which should ultimately literally stop me doing anything but working - as not even browsing the web is really possible on this device.

I really need to get this thing done.

Predictions

Now to make some predictions for 2021. I'm sticking my neck on the line, but I think it's fun to make some predictions about these things. These are my top predictions:

I really hope 2021 proves to be a better year for us all, but let's see.