Category Archives: Blog

My blog and occasional comment on current affairs.

Intermittent Fasting. The 5:2 Diet.

I’m currently on my second 84 hour work week which would suck if TV didn’t pay by the hour. When I’m not working in the glittering world of watching telly professionally, I work as a journalist. In my spare time I write fiction, play computer games and go to the pub/ out for dinner. To summarize then: I need to lose a stone in weight.

So for the first time in my life, I am on a diet. I’ve actually tried a few exciting dietary fads over the years, vain bastard that I am, but they rarely last to the second meal so they might not count. But then I heard about the intermittent fasting diet and have decided to leap on the bandwagon. (Or at least slide my beer gut over the edge of the wagon and collapse gracelessly to its floor.)

The theory is that for two non-consecutive days a week I eat less than 600 calories. (It’s 500 for women.) The rest of the week you can eat what you want – even Scottish food served in American-sized portions (although the cholesterol will get you). Apparently this is to do with something scientific and is therefore brilliant.

I had originally heard of this diet in a science magazine but it was to do with the possibility that it may make you live a lot longer. While the longevity effect seems to work on mice and other critters, it sadly doesn’t for us primates. However this calorie restriction massively reduces the risks of disease and makes you much, much healthier. So you are considerably more likely to make it well into old age and look pretty sexy while doing so.

Some have found it hard to get used to the ‘fast’ days when you start out but to be fair to the diet – some people are greedy and weak and have the will power of a five year old child surrounded by sweets. It could be that due to my chaotic work schedule and weird hours I’m just used to having days where I barely eat and subsist on coffee, but I found the ‘fast’ bits really easy. It’s only one day where you can’t eat much, then you can enjoy a few days of pies and beer until the next one.

At some point in the future I will probably update how it is all going but I don’t want a ‘Bridget Jones’ style commentary going on. Of course if it works, I probably won’t shut up about it. Anyway, time for pie.

If you are portly and want more info:

 

Streetview for the Galaxy

You live here.

You live here.

I’m a massive fan of space and science. Also of Google Streetview. (Over on www.scifiward.com there’s a streetview of the TARDIS.) Here on the Word of Ward there’s an interactive galaxy! (See below.) It’s made by some space enthusiasts at Google and is pretty much a streetview-type map of the galaxy. Very cool indeed.

Click on this and enjoy!

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Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories

Travel book cover finalI have an exciting new book! It is called ‘Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories’. Not the catchiest of titles, I’ll admit, but I want people to know what they’re getting. Three true travel stories where yours truly was in peril. In three different places. Here’s the blurb:

Jason Ward tells three true stories of fairly perilous travel.

While backpacking in his early twenties, he decides to give fruit picking a go. Even without the spiders, snakes, and a plague of locusts, things turn out pretty badly.
A trip into the Atlas Mountains with his girlfriend turns out less than romantic when flash floods threaten to wipe out the town. The only escape option is a van full of Berber tribesmen and a waterlogged road on the edge of a cliff.
After moving to the peaceful paradise of Thailand, Ward goes to a local pub near his Bangkok flat. That evening there is a military coup. In Bangkok. So why can’t he see anything?

These stories are filled with humour and dollops of fear. Recommended for those who enjoy travel stories or just like reading about someone being mildly terrified in foreign countries.

If you like travel stories please give them a go. Also, if you like them, please leave a review, they really help and I need to eat. If you don’t like them, then move along, nothing to see here.

For UK customers:

For our American cousins:

The book costs a pittance. Which is a bargain!

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Cosmos

When I was a kid, one of my favourite shows was ‘Cosmos’ by the legendary Carl Sagan. It was astronomy with huge inspiring dollops of philosophy. Basically, it made you think. You can watch entire episodes on youtube if you haven’t ever seen Cosmos or Carl Sagan. Unless you’re a creationist or lack any soul, curiosity, or sense of wonder, then you’re in for a treat.

When I heard they were bringing Cosmos back, I was a bit dubious. Apart from Professor Brian Cox’s amazing documentaries (all of which I have on Bluray and astound me with every viewing), a lot of space related shows tend to be dumbed down and chock full of graphics. Both Sagan and Cox bring a sense of wonder coupled with facts, that remain unparalleled (although Hawking’s show and Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole are great too). My concern was who they were going to get to replace Sagan. If they didn’t get the right person it would be crap.

Thankfully the new Cosmos is presented by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Of whom I am a big fan. Not as big as I am of Cox or Sagan, but he’s certainly up there and after this show he might be on a par with them. I hope so. Here’s the new trailer:

Just in case you haven’t ever seen Carl Sagan in action, here is a famous thing he did about Earth. At his suggestion Voyager took a photo of Earth as it travelled further away. It really creates a sense of perspective and gives you an idea of what I mean when I say that he ‘makes you think’. This is bloody genius.

The Uneven Passage of Time

The Uneven Passage of Time cover finalI’m not just plugging my awesome eBook because I haven’t done so for 6 months, (although that would be reason enough,) I’m plugging it because I am going to release a new one! Soon! The last trilogy of tales was a thoughtful blast of entertaining Scifi short story excitement. The next are a trio of true travel tales. Which are dramatised and are going to be pretty damn exciting too.

They are from three different periods of my life – when I was 21 and picking fruit in Australia and there were snakes, spiders and a plague of locusts; another was when I was in my late 20s in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in prime flash flood season and the only escape was a trip in a van full of Berber tribesmen driven down the edge of a cliff; and the final one is set in Bangkok in my mid-30s when the Thai military thoughtlessly staged a military coup during happy hour. All three are moments where I really thought there was a chance I might die. And not my usual concern of alcohol poisoning either – these were genuine threats.

I just need to finalise the cover and sort out the bastard formatting. So bear with me.

In the meantime, I give you The Uneven Passage of Time!

Here’s the blurb:

Time, famously, is relative. In this trio of short stories journalist and fiction writer Jason R. Ward looks at three individuals and their unorthodox journeys through time. These entertaining tales blend the themes of psychology and perception with classic science fiction.

Stephen Hawking once sent out dinner invitations to all future time travellers. No one turned up. But what if one had? In ‘A Date to Remember’ a young physicist is convinced he has worked out the secret to building a time travel device. Lacking the resources to construct the machine he sets a time and date for a meeting with his future self.

It is a truism that people remember the big events in life and forget the repetitive. For most people, their year skips by unnoticed, punctuated by birthdays, world events, big personal milestones or traumatic events. As you age life seems to speed up and you find that the years seem to fly past. ‘As Time Goes By’ is the story of Frank Gilbert who is experiencing this to the extreme. His time seems to be accelerating at an abnormal rate. Years of his repetitive life seem to go by in days. Can he break the cycle in time?

The final and longest short story is ‘The Man Who Loved Statues’. Captain Michael Pike is a man who has taken a bit of hammering in life. With nothing much to live for he volunteers for an experiment that is going to attempt to alter his passage through time and put him in stasis. Things don’t go quite according to plan.

For the US:
http://www.amazon.com/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324264158&sr=8-1
For the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324258518&sr=8-1

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50 Misconceptions about Science

mmmm science....

mmmm science….

I’m a massive fan of the scientific method, which I’ll be the first to admit is a strange and vague thing to say. Scientists propose theories, conduct tests and then have their peers (their very smart peers with brains chock full of knowledge) look at their experiments and ideas, and then disagree/ agree/ generally argue about it/ get bored and have sex with each other. It’s a process. Eventually though some things become so established they are difficult to disprove and become facts which are used to make the world a bit better. Or worse. More interesting anyway. For example, the ability to use a laptop to look at naked ladies or TheWordofWard over a wireless signal in a coffeeshop is the result of a lot of things being discovered and implemented by brainy scientists.

I’m not going to mention religion. Each to their own. Their way of arguing is different and I’m not a fan. This explains it better:

futurama science

I heard a story on QI about a scientist who was told as a child that if you crack your knuckles you get arthritis when you are older. Having an eager scientific mind even at the age of 6, he started cracking the knuckles of just one hand, every day, until he was 60 and concluded it was rubbish when he got arthritis in both hands simultaneously. I like that kind of mind. Question things people!

Sometimes some bit of widely believed knowledge get proved wrong or was wrong to begin with but seems to get stuck in the collective human psyche as a fact. I’ve never understood how anyone can think the following are true having thought about it for a few seconds:

World-is-Flat-480x480

Mind the Gap

Everyone used to think the world was flat and that vessels going over the horizon were believed to be falling off the edge of the Earth. This is clearly bollocks as the boats used to come back. There wasn’t a constant stream of boats disappearing and never ever returning. Sailors aren’t that mental or suicidal.

A cup of tea has more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Balls. Have three cups of strong tea in an hour. You might feel a slight buzz but it would be minor. Now have three strong coffees in an hour. You’ll be twitching and raving like a madman. What’s true is that a pound of tea has more caffeine than a pound coffee. But a pound of tea makes a billion cups of tea, whereas a pound of coffee makes about ten cups (figures may vary).

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space/ the moon. No it isn’t. From space you can see tons of stuff. From the moon you can barely see continents. Why would you be able to see something just because it’s really long?

Anyway, some very cool fellows at “Mental Floss” have compiled 50 misconceptions people have about various bits of science. If you like science you will know most of these but they are still fun. Enjoy.

 

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Coding with Code Academy

Pretty sexy headline eh? I would like to say that I haven’t been able to write much because I have been spending every waking hour learning how to code like a fevered coding madman. Sadly, the real reason is that I have been looking for a new flat. Which is less sexy.

Here's a complete virtual world I coded earlier

Here’s a complete virtual world I coded earlier

But I have been learning how to code in between appointments. I felt its a skill I should learn for these important reasons:

1/ I have some websites. They are awesome and look pretty but I have no idea what I’m doing on the programming side of things. I just drop in some html code for, say, some Google ads (for eg) and just see where they end up. That method has its limits and has probably led to some readers seeing bizarre placement of things.

2/I also want to be able to do cool things with fonts and redesign generally. At present I am terrified of fiddling with the template (not a euphemism) as it might mess up the whole site.

3/It is on my CV/Resume that I can write code – so I should probably learn it just in case an employer calls my bluff.

To begin with, I have been using something called Code Academy.  It is pretty cool so far and you will soon be seeing some astounding changes on this site thanks to what I have learned.

Code Academy is an online school that is free. It is browser based so you can do it on any computer you come across and you save your progress on the web. (I definitely haven’t been doing it at work though.) It consists of a series of tutorials and tests. When you do well you get points, badges and other achievements that increase your pathetic sense of self worth. (All the cool kids have a blog to do this.)

I don’t know how long I will stick with it, but I have already lost my sense of fear of some of the intimidating code behind this site. You can also learn other things like Java, so you can create a new app and make billions.

I appear to be a year or more behind everyone else when it comes to Code Academy but in case you’ve been out socialising, travelling or having sex or something, I thought I would fill you in.

Also get ready for this site to look different. Hopefully for the better but if not – I’m a coder not a designer, cut me some slack.

softwaredesign

 

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Building Empire State – the other photo

I saw this and thought I would share. Because I’m nice and thought it was pretty awe inspiring/terrifying. You know that famous old black and white photo of the workmen having lunch on a girder high above Mahattan? You know, this one:

Empire State Building workers having lunch

Empire State Building workers having lunch

Well, there are a few more pics like this. My favourite one is the one that was presumably taken after lunch. In many ways I find this even more terrifying, given that I once rolled out of a bunk bed. I’d like to think that the photo was posed and the guys were absolutely shitting themselves, but somehow I doubt it. Some people just aren’t scared of heights. Anyway, just thought I’d share. Enjoy.

After the famous photo

After the famous photo

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The Starving Writer

cutcaster-photo-100733092-Graduation-CelebrationI’ve done it! Five bastard years of broadening my already swollen noggin. A couple of weeks ago I sent off my final essay for my Open University degree in English Language and Literature (with hons). I am now totally educated and shit. It has happened at a weird time though.

Some background is needed as this site isn’t normally a blog (just occasionally). Mrs Wordofward and I wisely decided to go to Thailand for two months at the end of February and gave up our flat in sunny Belsize Park and put everything into storage. We are now back and have been working freelance in TV. My current client only books me a day or two in advance and as I write this I have nothing booked. Currently, we are staying in a friend’s lovely two bedroomed flat (she’s away for a few months) as are looking for our own place.

So now I finally find myself with a degree and I am technically homeless and unemployed. I’m pretty sure that is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen.

On the plus side, I am now realising I have no excuses not to write more. Before, I always had this nagging guilt that I should have been studying – a guilt I have to admit I was able to ignore a lot – but now there is no excuse. I am writing this in a sunny garden on a Macbook air with a cup of tea and an increasing portfolio of shares, so it’s a bit of a stretch to class myself as a starving writer but fuck it, I like the imagery.

Why am I saying all this? Firstly, it is my website so I’ll write what the hell I like. Secondly, I read a book called 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman that proves if you announce things publicly, you are more likely to actually do them. (I wrote about this before here.) I have been writing 1000 words a day as I vowed before but only on days when I wasn’t working and most of them were for my degree. I now vow to write more fiction and badger the hell out of  all of you lovely readers to buy it. Thank you in advance.

So, er, I had better dash. Next entry: something more interesting that isn’t so self absorbed.

5016875837_1012236936_self_absorbed_xlarge_xlarge

 

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London in the 20s. Colour video!

I saw this on Facebook and felt the need to share. It’s pretty amazing to see colour video from the 20s and this is even more amazing if you happen to be a Londoner. It’s mad to think that my teenage grandad might be in one of these shots, taken almost 100 years ago. It was certainly a glorious time if you like to wear hats. Enjoy.

Real Astronaut sings Bowie

This is all over the internet right now with millions of hits a day. Which is great as it is probably my favourite music video right now.
Chris Hadfield is an astronaut with an awesome moustache who has just returned to Earth from the space station. Before leaving he decided to sing a farewell song and chose Space Oddity. With understandably altered lyrics. It is one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a long time.
I’m surprised no astronaut has done this before.
Next week – Rocket Man by Elton John performed by Gregori the Cosmonaut.

The World’s End Trailer

The World's End

The World’s End

The World’s End is the third film from the guys who brought you (and me), Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Two superb movies I can watch repeatedly. And have done. I live in North London and wonder if the idea came from two pubs in the area both called ‘The World’s End’ and both in areas that I know the stars and writers frequently hang around. (Camden and Finsbury Park.) Or maybe, also like me, they are obsessed with the apocalypse.

The World’s End is going to be great, I can feel it.