Exercises for Seniors

The UK National Health Service (NHS) recommends older adults do 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and 10 minutes of muscle-strengthening every day[1] or 150 minutes aerobic and 60 minutes muscle-strengthening every week.

Use the Exercise Timer on this page to time your daily or weekly exercises. It will remember your time between visits.

Moderate aerobic exercise can be achieved by walking fast enough (or doing other exercises) to make you breathe faster than normal.

Muscle Strengthening

Muscle strengthening is less obvious. The following NHS videos show you how. Try them all, then decide which ones suit you best. You might want to spend five minutes on two of them each day, or one minute on ten of them, whatever is best for you.


[1] See http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-older-adults.aspx The recommendation used here is one of several different regimes the NHS recommends, the others involving more vigorous and shorter daily or weekly exercise. Also it is not easy to find their daily recommendation for muscle strengthening, which is one reason I created this page.


Exercise for Seniors which will quickly remind you of all the exercises.

Crystal Day 2016

TT2-460-Cover-Front-RGB-626Today is Crystal Day, the day that time stopped almost everywhere in the universe, 5 April 2012.

To mark the occasion, Penny Press are publishing a new edition of The Time Tunnel, volume 2 of the epic Time Crystal series, and I will be interviewed at the Amethyst Centre, Coventry.
More information at www.timecrystal.co.uk

Writing Speed Analysis

Just finished Episode 71+72. I use Toggl to track my time so am able to do some calculations on how fast I write, and make some projections about how long it will take to finish Volume 3.

My plan has been to finish Volume 3 (so far no working title) in the autumn and publish it on Crystal Day 2017.

I recorded the writing of these 2 episodes under the same heading, Together they contain 5443 words. (I normally plan on writing about 3000 words per Episode, so that if somebody reads the book before going to sleep it will take them no more than about 20 minutes.) They took 35 hours 48 minutes to write, and this work was done over 21 days.

Likewise I kept a record of writing Episode 70 and obtained very similar figures, so I’m pretty confident of my figures. Before that, I wasn’t recording which Episode I was working on.

I write at about 160 words an hour, just slightly more than one would normally read in 1 minute! This is equivalent to wrote 449 words per day. I am happy with that rate.

Assuming Volume 3 will have about 30 episodes, of which about 10 have so far been written, if I continue at the current rate it will take another 134 days, or 31 weeks to finish. So I am track to hit my target, to finish writing Volume in the autumn and then begin the publishing and marketing process (my Achilles heel)!

Furthermore, I expect to be spending less time on the United Nations Association Coventry Branch (which I have been working on starting over the past few months).  Analysis of time - Toggl

Last month (February 2016) I spent 1/3 of my time on Time Crystal (pale blue in the pie chart) and 1/3 on starting the UNA Branch (dark blue). I don’t expect that this will take so much time in the future, since I was planning the first event (which will take place the coming Friday), and the first time you do something it always takes longer than subsequent times.

The rest of my time was divided among my other projects, mainly Hotu365 (brown). This involves telling the history of the universe in 365 five-minute videos. Originally I had planned to create one a day, but I found that each video was taking at least 2 hours, and sometimes up to 5 hours to prepare, record and edit, so it was simply impossible to stick to that plan. And nobody was watching the videos anyway, so now I am producing about one per week. So that too should take less time in the future.

So I will be spending less time on my other projects, so I should have more time for Time Crystal and comfortably hit my target. Unless, of course, I follow my normal procedure get involved with some totally new, unanticipated project. I must resist!


Scene Design with PowerPoint

Scene Design with PowerPoint

I just discovered a very useful way to help me think about the action in a scene with a relatively large number of characters. I am writing Episode 71 which is part of Volume 3, and there are 8 characters in this scene. It’s rather hard to imagine what happens in the scene, and my major problem was keeping track of what everyone was thinking and wanting and then saying.

I have already created images of all my major characters using Frameforge, so I create icons representing the characters in the scene and save them within PowerPoint, using the storyboard facility (an optional extra for Powerpoint).

I placed the characters and some props (obtained from PowerPoint’s Clip Art feature) and then I attached a list box to each character containing the main thoughts which are preoccupying them.

You can group the character icon with the list box, so they move together as the characters move around during the scene, and yet you can still edit the text box even when it is part of a group, which is handy.

Doing this, I realised things I had not appreciated before which several characters were thinking about. This then drove the scene and the future plot.

I guess I could have achieved the same thing just using a list of characters or a mind map, but this worked for me, especially having the images of the characters to stimulate my thoughts.

Exercise for Seniors

Some short videos I produced for an Android app I never had time to finish. The exercises can be done indoors and are excellent for overall fitness. I recommend doing each one 10 times every day,

An Amazing Discovery

Yesterday I discovered two amazing apps which have already transformed my reading life.

First, let me make it clear I do not enjoy reading. I want knowledge, and I prefer to get it through my ears rather than my eyes whenever possible. I listen to radio but do not watch television. I listen to podcasts rather than listen scheduled programs. I can listen while I do other things, such as going for a walk, but reading while walking can be dangerous.

So the first app which I discovered was @Voice, an Android app which allows you to read aloud almost anything (except Kindle books, sadly not yet readable aloud). For example, I can now download the magazines to which I subscribe, open them for reading, open the articles list, select the text and Send To @Voice. @Voice will even create a list of articles, so I can select the articles I want to hear in advance and listen to them whenever I want.

Even better, @Voice knows which language the article is written in, so I can now hear articles from Le Figaro or Science et Avenir as well as from The New York Times or the Guardian.

And finally, I can use the Pocket website (getpocket.com) to save web pages on my PC, then download them easily to @Voice on the Android phone and listen to them in the same way.

So far I’ve only used it for a day, but I’m very happy with it. Mind you, I am completely used to computer-generated speech. I use TextAloud to read my books as I write them, so doing instant proofing. My ears hear grammatical errors which neither my eyes nor Microsoft Word can spot. If you don’t like computer speech, you might not like this app.

More Astonishing Plot Turns

This is definitely the first time, after 12 years of writing Time Crystal, that the characters have taken over and are writing the plot for me. I am thrilled. It takes a lot of the work off my shoulders!

Bit of a Disaster

Working on Episode 68 (in Volume 3) I find that the labels which I thought were attached to crystal are, in fact, the wrong ones.

In Episode 44, Francesco Romani draw a map of which crystal is connected to which one, and he drew a map on a tabletop in the CERN Cafeteria. Then some characters started swapping crystal, so Romani changed his map. Only after the map was complete did he stick labels on the crystals.

I have been diligent in recording at every step in the story who has which crystal, so I can be totally authentic about who can see and talk to whom. But, unfortunately, I seem to have used the wrong letters on the crystal labels, using the names of the people who owned them before they swapped.

I therefore need to correct my record and then to go through the whole story so far, all 250 thousand words or so, and check that I have the correct label. And, if some of them are wrong, I will need to change the text. I am in the process of producing new editions of the first two volumes, so I will need to correct the text of these too.

What a nuisance, and nobody but me will ever know about it, but I want this story to be as rigorously accurate as possible, so I have no choice.

Result of Investigation

In Episode 58, Volume 2 (The Time Tunnel) I have to change the words

bearing the legend “Doc”


bearing the legend “M”

Several other labels had to be changed, but luckily the new edition has not yet been published, so I will make the changes before it goes live on Crystal Day, April 5, this year (2016).


I spent 4 hours this morning changing the email which goes out every day to subscribers at the hotu365.com website. This ridiculously ambitious project involves me in spending between two and four hours every day this year creating a five-minute video describing an important episode in the history of the universe.

When I began the project I had no idea it would be so time-consuming, but having started it, it seems a pity to give up. I have a bulldog like attachment to the projects I start. And the fact that I am actually getting a little publicity from it, which was my main motive for starting it, means I am now very reluctant to stop. However I suspect that the ambition of creating a new video every day might slip.

What I wanted to do this morning was to embed the video inside the email which goes out to subscribers. The website is powered by WordPress and the email by Mailchimp. These two systems are linked by an RSS feed. This feed failed to include the embedded video. I searched the Web but failed to find any solution. I tested one of my other sites and it produced an email with the video embedded. So began the hunt for the cause of the failure of the RSS feed from hotu365.com

In fact the cause was simple: in the Reading setting of WordPress you can specify, for each article in a feed, whether to include the whole post or just a summary, and I had set this to be a summary. It took a few seconds to make the change, although testing that it actually achieved what I wanted took longer.

So creating today’s video turned out to be more enjoyable than normal, motivated as I was to add it to the hotu365.com site and see the result. I also added a complete list of all existing videos to the email, which I hope will make them more useful.

Now all I need is more subscribers, but a forthcoming article in Origins, the newsletter for members of the International Big History Association, might help. And hopefully the whole package of videos might one day prove useful to students and anyone else curious about where we came from.

I am shocked by this utterly unexpected turn of events

Writing Volume 3 (due for publication 5 April 2017) I am shocked by today’s turn of events.

A character has done something totally unexpected, and I have no idea what will be the consequences. I can’t give away too many details, obviously, but the action is totally in keeping with this character’s previous actions, yet takes it to a new low level of recklessness.

I arrived at this surprising turn of events, which is going to lead to a revolution within the story I had been expecting to write, by simply sitting down and beginning to make a list of the possible actions which this character could take, given its previous actions.

There turned out to be not many options, and one of them was very audacious. At first I hesitated, but almost immediately realised that, although this would take the story into totally unexplored territory, it is not only right for the character (and devastating for all the others!) but stimulating for me, since now I have no idea where this is going, which makes it far more interesting.

So now, perhaps for the first time, the characters are truly in charge of the story. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!!!