That Lockdown Hair

The WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. My son, Noah, wasn’t even one on that date. 

Here is Noah just a few days before that.  

Noah in his Burnley FC shirt with his Burnley book.

Here is Noah on the Sunday just gone. He’ll turn two next month. 

Noah and his long hair.

You can sort of chart the course of the year by looking at his hair, which has obviously grown a lot since the pandemic began over a year ago. It was whispy and thin at that age. It’s now longer and thicker, and he has the most magnificent bedhead every morning.

We’ve had few opportunities to get it cut, with hairdressers being open for a few weeks before having to close again. Cutting it ourselves just makes it look like we’ve put a bowl on his head, so we’re content to keep it as it is for now.

But you can also see how much his face has changed. He’s now a little boy who can run around and say over 50 words. I’m constantly amazed by every new little thing he does, and he has a cheeky little character that always has me in fits of laughter. 

It’s a shame that the majority of a year of his life, which is a long time in a child of his age, has been spent being cooped up within the same four walls. We try to go for walks or go to the park when the weather is fine, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re limited to your local area and lots of activities you can do with your children are still closed.  

He still gets to the go to the childminders, so at least he has the social contact that he is mostly being deprived of in other areas right now. 

It’s the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on children that worries me the most. Maybe not so much Noah, as he’s still very young. But all the kids at school and the amount of learning – or simply just being able to be a child – that they’ve missed out on.  

It’s been hard for us all, mentally and physically, but I hate that children have had to miss out on chunks of their childhood. It’s something they’ll never get back.  

March Steps Challenge Mid-Month Check-Up

It’s halfway through the month, so it’s time for an update on our goal to hit 10,000 steps a day throughout March. Just a reminder that my wife, Alex, is raising money for Cancer Research UK while she does too. You can donate here.  

The good news is that we’ve managed to hit the target every day, even if it’s sometimes meant running up and down the living room at 10pm. My Fitbit says that I’ve done 196,701 steps since the start of March, which is well on the way to the 310,000 required by the end of the month.  

Steps that Thomas Mulrooney has done throughout March 2021.
You can see how I started off strong, but flagged a little by the second week. Still, it’s way better than the 42k steps I did in the last week of February.

I know some people who are doing it who aren’t doing 10,000 a day yet are still hoping to hit the target. In this case you’ll do more than 10,000 one day, then maybe only do 7,000 the next. But I’d rather not have a day off, so we’ve stuck to our guns. But, I’m not here to judge, so do it whichever way you wish. The priority is getting exercise. 

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy, as it’s been bloody hard at times. Sometimes you have a particularly busy day at work and, as I sit on my arse at a computer all day, I sometimes don’t get the chance to get many steps in. I try to remember to get up every hour and do at least 250 steps, because they all add up and it keeps me from being too inactive in a sedentary job. I also try and go on a walk on my lunch break, weather permitting. 

Speaking of the weather, that’s been a problem at times. Not that I’d expect anything less from the good old UK. It’s easy to say that you should go out and walk even if it’s raining. If it was a drizzle, sure, but I draw the line at lashings of rain amidst strong winds. On these days we have to do our steps inside, which usually ends up with me running up and down the living room.  

Alex has taken a less boring route than me and has taken to doing step workouts she found on YouTube. If you’re interested, the channel is called Get Fit With Rick. He has a variety of step workouts from a quick 1,000 to a knackering 10,000.  

I’ve also been trying to drink at least a 1.5 litre bottle of water every day. I started off well, but I’ve flagged a bit recently, so I need to get back into that. I have found that I feel a lot better when I do drink water, although you also have to pee a hell of a lot more. 

While it’s tiring at times and my limbs can ache the day after, it’s all worth it and I feel great. I weighed myself on the 4th March and I was 14st4lbs. I’m refusing to weigh myself again until April arrives, so fingers crossed that all this walking makes an impact.

But even if I don’t lose as much weight as I hope I will, I’m still seeing the benefits in being generally fitter, more awake and more switched on during the day.  

Just try it. You don’t have to do 10,000 but set a target you think is achievable and go from there. You’ll start to make decisions with increasing your steps in mind. You’ll do things like taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus one stop early. All these little things add up. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting your target in no time.  

I’ll report the results on the 1st of April. Until then, I’ve got some more walking to do! 

The Pinter: A Simple Way To Brew Your Own Beer

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m a bit obsessed with craft beer at the moment. I’ve even been considering going down the route of brewing my own beer at some point in the future. Although I know I’ll end up messing it up and it will come out tasting like cat piss.

I have memories of my step-grandad brewing up beer in his kitchen, and while I was too young to really understand just what the hell he was doing at the time, I always thought that it looked a bit of a faff. A cursory Google of ‘how to brew your own beer’ shows I’m not wrong. You need a lot of space and equipment, and even after all that effort the results may be terrible. 

Luckily, there’s a solution in the form of The Pinter.  I found this little gem via a promotion on the Untappd app.

The Pinter home brewing kit
It definitely looks like a nice bit of kit.

Marketed as a ‘world-first innovation’, The Pinter is a home brewing kit that’s committed to making the brewing process easier, more affordable, and sustainable.

The Pinter brewing kit contains a barrel, brewing dock, yeast, purifier, and a Fresh Press pack. The latter is what contains the alcohol-free drink you’ll be making. It’s alcohol-free because the alcohol is created during the fermentation process. Choices include the likes of cider, IPA, stout and lager, with more added over time. There’s also a subscription service where you can get a new Fresh Press popped through your letterbox every month. 

The barrel itself looks eye-catching, with six different colours that include jet black and hot red. But how does the Pinter actually work? 

First, you purify the barrel, before adding water, yeast and the Fresh Press. The brewing dock removes the yeast and residue during the fermentation process, leaving you with pressurised beer. All this will take a few days, with 4 being the standard, but it does depend on which drink you’re brewing.

The Pinter beer maker

The cool thing is that The Pinter holds on to the CO2 that’s produced during the fermentation process, and it’s then used to help carbonate the beer. It also kicks out excess CO2 through a valve system. 

The conditioning process, where the brew is carbonated so that it’s not as flat as that beer you fell asleep drinking, needs to be done in your fridge. While the barrel is nowhere near as big as your standard pub beer cask (it will supply 10 pints of chilled beer) you do need to be aware that, after the initial brewing process is complete, you’ll need to stick it in the fridge to allow it to cool for even more days. I can see that being an issue with a lot of people, as you’ll no doubt have to sacrifice lots of space and possibly even have to remove a shelf. If you’ve got one of those big American-style fridges, then you’ll likely be ok. I’d probably be shit out of luck, as my fridge is full of cheese. 

I love the idea of The Pinter. Making brewing simple and stress-free is a great way to get more beer lovers into it. Plus, the £75 price tag isn’t too high considering how much beer you’ll be getting out of it. However, there is the issue that the only beer you can brew in it are those in the Fresh Press range, so you couldn’t ever try your own creative combinations (it voids the 1-year warranty if you do try this). Hopefully The Greater Good Fresh Brewing Co will keep coming out with new drinks to try.  

I’m also thinking that if they went out of business in the future, you’d be left with some kit that you couldn’t do anything with as they wouldn’t be making Fresh Press drinks anymore. But I suppose that’s the risk you take with anything that relies on products you can only buy from the equipment manufacturer.  

Still, it’s a great idea and I’m very tempted. Find out more and buy your own over on The Pinter website.

Interesting Links – Week Of 8 March 2021

I really do need to find a better image that represents the Internet.

It’s Sunday, which means it’s time for the second edition of ‘Interesting Links’ (read the first edition here). It’s been a busy week in terms of news, and there are a couple of big topics I want to address. First, I want to talk about a horrific crime that happened here in the UK. 

Lockdown Day 5167: Noah Gives Up

Noah is a now a human snail.

As the UK lockdown goes on and on (although hopefully, it will end in a few months) Noah has had enough and has now decided he wants to live inside a basket.

I don’t blame the kid, life stuck in this little house has got very dull. If putting a basket on his head is his form of entertainment, then I’m all for it.

I’m tempted to have a go myself. At least it’s something to do.

Indie Game Pick: To The Rescue! A Dog Shelter Simulator

As well as all the other stuff I post here, I want to start using this blog to highlight things that you may not hear about on big media sites. I’m a big lover of indie games and I believe it’s important to support independent developers, so I want to start showcasing upcoming or already released games to help them get more exposure.

To The Rescue! dog shelter simulator game

The first game is one I’m very much looking forward to, even though I’ve never actually owned a dog. Still, I’m a sucker for any simulation-type games and this sounds right up my street!

To The Rescue! By Little Rock Games is a dog shelter simulator. Screw cities or theme parks, who doesn’t run to try their hand at running a shelter full of cute little puppies?  Check out the pre-alpha trailer from last year below.

Currently announced for PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch, To The Rescue! makes you responsible for caring for dozens of cute dogs who need a home. But running a shelter isn’t easy, and you’ll have to carefully manage your dog’s needs to maximise their chances of finding their perfect owner.

A screenshot of To The Rescue! a dog simulator game.

Each dog has their own unique preferences, as well as negative traits. They can catch infectious diseases too, so you’ll always have to be on hand to ensure they stay healthy.  

Potential adopters will come into your shelter with specific preferences for their new doggy companion, so you’ll have to match dogs to these preferences in order to increase their chances of adoption.

A screenshot of To The Rescue! a dog simulator game.

Over time, you can use any spare funds to upgrade the shelter by building deluxe kennels, adding communal play spaces, hiring more helpers and more.  

Unfortunately, running a dog shelter is also hard work. You’ll have to make tough decisions if order to keep caring for your dogs. This does mean that the game features euthanasia, and while the developers stress that it isn’t ‘glorified or presented as an easy way out’ it’s ‘an important part of the experience’ that real-life shelters have to contend with.

A screenshot of To The Rescue! a dog simulator game.

Little Rock Games also says that 20% of the profit from all sales of To The Rescue! will go towards real dog shelters, which gets a big thumbs up from me!

To The Rescue! has already been through the Kickstarter process and managed to raise $36,639 from 1,241 backers. There’s no word on a specific release date yet other than Autumn 2021, but you can follow progress on the game over on its website.