Welcome to the latest edition of Ramble, a compilation of what I have been pondering, learning and enjoying for the past month or so.
Now, grab a beverage and let’s begin.
The Gym Gypsies:
I recently learned about 'Gym Gypsying', from a friend who has simply declined to pay for gym memberships. For years. Here's how:
- Sign up for the free trial (1-2 weeks) at the local franchise of a national chain of gyms
- Use up that trial period with every class and pump session you can
- Politely decline to ratify your free trial into a full-fledged membership with some canned phrase of "I'm just trying to find the right gym for me"
Simple enough so far. You have enjoyed two weeks of free gym membership. But now the fun bit. Since there are multiple franchises of multiple gym chains in any major city, you can extend your free gym time a little longer.
Simply repeat steps 1-3 at alternative gym chains within your city. You can be certain that there is no centralised database of names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses being shared between competing gym chains.
Now it gets more interesting, because there is probably at maximum only about four (sufficiently large and franchised) gym chains in any given city. So one might think that you could only churn steps 1-3 a maximum of four times (so maybe 8 weeks of free gym) before running out of chances.
No, no. This is where some cheeky identity theft and fraud comes into the game.
You now return to a different franchise of the original chain of gyms that you started with. Realistically there is a 24-hour gym in every second suburb, so this shouldnt be too difficult. But you sign up by listing your boyfriend/partner/mum/neighbour's mobile phone number on the online 'free trial' signup page. Avoid speaking to anyone face-to-face. Continue steps 2-3.
Then move on to the next franchise of the second chain of gyms. Repeat.
You now have multiple permutations of 'gym identity' - mum's phone number x boyfriend's email x my name x gym chain 1 x franchise 2. You are only limited by the number of family members you have, number of gym chains in your city and number of local franchises within each chain - to extend your multiples of 2-week trials for years.
I was very impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of this scheme. And the fact that it worked.
It turns out that, while it is unsurprising that gym chains do not communictae membership details between compaines, neither do franchises within a chain (or at least not effectively...).
Now there are some complications to consider. Eventually as you cycle through gyms, you will be physically returning to previously churned gyms under your mum's name. It is entirely possible for some motivated PT to just recognise your face. Fine.
The second complication is when you are returning to previously churned gyms (who do have some effective member tracking software) with the same mobile phone number - numbers are easily trackable within a gym, or potentially between franchises within a chain. The same goes for email addresses. Easily recognisable from a database perspective when you are returning to the literal same franchise that you Gypsied at 12 months ago.
But this got me thinking.
There are plenty of 'throwaway email' providers that allow you to use a disposable email for signup purposes like this:
These services tend to be free.
Or you could use a virtual mobile phone number, or lots of them, as throwaway numbers when you sign up:
Unfortunately you need to pay a small fee for the privilege.
But did you see that free trial option up in the corner there...?
I suppose there is a way to become a gym-gypsy-unidentifiable-multiple-mobile-and-email-anonymous-legendary Gypsy King.
But that is a challenge for another time...
What I am Reading:
- BLOTS ON A FIELD? A neuroscience image sleuth finds signs of fabrication in scores of Alzheimer’s articles, threatening a reigning theory of the disease - Science - Charles Piller - 15 mins
How about a likely decade (and a half) long fraud in Alzheimer's research that could have misdirected and delayed years of reseach and billions of dollars in funding...
- Healthy Great Barrier Reef, healthy environmental scandal - Spectator Australia - Graham Young - 7 mins
"For years, the primary economic purpose of the Great Barrier Reef hasn’t been generating tourists for Queensland, but ARC grants for academics and matching Commonwealth Grants for the Queensland government dedicated to ‘saving’ the reef."
- Inside the crypto black markets of Argentina - Freethink - Devon Zuegel - 17 mins
- Salman Rushdie and a questionof power - The Spectator - Douglas Murray - 4 mins
What I am Watching:
- Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 (Netflix)
Trying to recapitulate the peace and love of the original Woodstock in 1969 but with:
- Endless concrete (decomissioned air force base) instead of a grassy dairy farm
- No water, no shade, 38 degree days
- Price-gouging vendors and heavily commericalised pay-per-view contracts instead of a communal free kitchen and hippies
- Acts like The Offspring, Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Megadeth - instead of - Arlo Guthrie, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Jimi Hendrix
What did they think was going to happen...?
- The Sandman (Netflix)
At this point, I will watch anything based on a Neil Gaiman book. He asks simple questions with entertaining answers - like what would happen if the gods were a product of our beliefs? Well, you get American Gods (Prime) where the old Gods (like Thor and Jesus and Estara/Easter) mingle with the new ones (like 'Media' and 'Highways'). Or what happens if a messianic end-of-the-world pophecy has to actually play out, but the forces of good and evil are not really committed, and would like things to continue as they are? Well, you get Good Omens (Prime). Or what if Destiny, Dreams, Desire, Death, Destruction, Despair and Delirium are just endless beings bound to perform their task forever (regardless of their own personality faults) - which gets us to Morpheus, the master of Dreams, in The Sandman. Give it a watch.
- The Gray Man (Netflix)
Studios are cashing in on stoic, unbeatable 'John Wick'-style characters. And this is another one. But it has Ryan Gosling as the good guy and Chris Evans as a moustached bad guy so obviously I'm going to watch it...
- Day Shift (Netflix)
Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco and Snoop Dogg. Fighting vampires. In Los Angeles. Again, obviously you are going to watch this...
Cool Things in Science and Medicine:
The adminsitration of high dose Vitamin C to sick people in ICU as a miracle cure for sepsis hit the headlines a few years ago with a dodgy single-centre study by some dude named Paul Marik, who proposed something of a cocktail of medicines that 'resulted' in a nearly 100% survival rate from sepsis.
Sounds nonsense. Because it probably was. But COVID. So people latched on to it.
Anyway, a recent, proper large international randomised placebo-controlled trial was published in The New England Journal of Medicine (June, 2022) showing that Vitamin C administration in critically unwell sepsis patients in ICU definitely did not confer a survival benefit and may actually cause harm.
Excellent discussion over at St Emlyn's.
I am taking off for 12 months of world travel next year. Here is a thought dump of my thoughts and planning. I will flesh these out in subsequent editions of this here newsletter -
How to quit your job and escape for a year (and why you should…)
1. How to quit your job
- Don’t tell anybody your plans - we will revisit this step
- Get a good job
- If you don’t love it, suck it up
- If your job is actually killing you, then find another job
- Do good work
- Don’t be that guy staying late
- Don’t be a dick
- Build relationships - this is important for later
- How to save
2. How to escape for a year
- Save how much
- Map out your finish date based on your savings rate
- Now tell everybody at all times
- Now you are committed
- Be pessimistic
- Double down on your savings
- Have a return plan
- But also fuck the plan
- Ignore and pity the doubters
- Plan a route - if you want
- Pack a bag
- Ditch all your stuff
3. Why you should
- Why not?
- Travel is fun
- Get smarter
- This will not adversely affect your career
- Actually, it will add to your career
- Regrets and arthritis
What I Learned:
- The Man Who Killed Millions and Saved Billions
This is a fantastic piece of science history. This channel is great for these. And this was a good one. Fertiliser - feed the world or perpetrate the holocaust?...
Thank you once again for reading along with me.
If you found something you liked, let me know.
If you think I can do something a little smoother, please let me know.