Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Thirsty Yogi and the Greatest Yogi-Related Quote

There is an Indian man (a 'yogi') who claims to have not eaten or drank in over 70 years. This could seem like a bit of BS to everybody, but in 2003 a hospital convinced him to go in for 10 days to be monitored. Apparently in this time he didn't eat or drink anything. 10 days without drinking will kill anyone, yet he didn't have the slightest health problem.

A few years later he was monitored again, this time for 2 weeks. In this time it was found, again, that he didn't once eat or drink, and was baffling all the doctors. Thankfully, he offered up his own explanation, "I get the elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water". Cheers for that, now be quiet and let the big grown up doctors carry on with their research.

Anyway, one of the researchers, a Dr. Michael Van Rooyen, who's an emergency physician at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, an associate professor at the medical school, and the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, struggled to believe it. This professional, educated, white-coat-wearing doctor said:

"You can hold a lot of water in those yogi beards. A sneaky yogi for certain,"

What a legend. 'A sneaky yogi'. Just goes to show... you can lead a Yogi to water, but you can't make him drink.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Life without a phone

Recently my phone broke. I am more than happy to admit that I am a lost shell of a man without my phone, but I am shocked with just how bad things can be.
On Friday I went to London to see Neil (he is one of my best friends, who despite moving to London may get a post dedicated to him at some point). The first problem was that I didn't know how to arrange to meet him. In the dying seconds of my backup phone battery, I text him saying when and where I will be arriving. I got to Marylebone station and waited, to no avail. I was already picturing myself sleeping in the station, one eye on my bag containing my Playstation 3, and fighting off the security as they tried to drag me out. I tried turning my phone on, hoping my suffering had encouraged it to work long enough to call him. Thankfully it did! Problem averted.

On Saturday morning we set off on an epic quest to get my PS3 and Phone fixed, in opposite sides of London. I won't get into the epic journey, and about the boy who broke my Playstation, but I will say that weekend service on the tubes are terrible. Even if you write down where you want to go you will end up having to go somewhere entirely different and walk. And my phone is my map. And I had no phone. We wandered around a part of east London, up and down a very long road too many times for me to enjoy. Eventually we found it using maps on the side of bus stops. How degrading.

While in London I was hoping to meet my favourite blogger friend, though I had no way of contacting her, so this too had to be postponed.
Later on the night we were going to my old housemates new house warming party. Getting there was painful enough (as I said, weekend service on tubes) but we found a route we could take that only made a few changes. We sat on the tube as it went to a couple of places, and then it stopped... for ages. A voice on the speakers said that someone has "taken ill" at one of the stations so there is a delay. We sat quietly as a homeless man with bandaged feet asked for money, saying he was an ex-serviceman. I don't think I believed him, but Neil gave him a pound anyway. The voice on the speakers said they strongly advised finding alternative transport, so we got off.

Apparently the person who had 'taken ill' had actually fell in front of the train. I hope I never 'take ill' like that.

I asked a friendly policeman directions to the part of Camden we wanted. He taunted me by whipping out his phone and showing me the map. On the way we befriended a crazy looking youth who happened to be going to the same area and was also lost. A few minutes of small talk later and he left us as we pinpointed the house we wanted. Looking up and down the street, I asked Neil what the road name and house number was. He looked at me horrified, as he expected I wrote that bit down, as he was just writing down the tube directions to get there.

I died a little inside.

Suddenly the world seemed dangerous, as I stood clutching my Playstation 3, iPod, DS, games, 2 bottles of alcohol, 3 phones and camera. I don't usually carry this much, I just had to get things repaired, and wanted backup things to do on the train. But now everyone wanted to steal it. A guy cycled past wearing a mask over his mouth. We stood around for about 45 minutes trying to work out what we could do. Using Neils phone I tried phoning Leigh, Joe, my sister, and other numbers I could remember, but to no avail. Neil looked like he had lost the will to live.

Then I remembered the phone battery trick! I always thought it was a myth, but at this point I would do anything to avoid having to spend the night on the streets of London, and inevitably have to whore myself out to get home. I took out my phone battery and gave it a little rub, placed it back in, and it worked!! I had just enough time to take 4 numbers off my phone and start calling them until someone was able to help me.

The party was good, except at the end I was lying on the bathroom floor in my boxers being sick. I didn't expect to wake up for my 10am coach home, and when I actually did I was still incredibly drunk and walking like I'd just won £10 on the lottery.

I can guarantee the whole weekend would have gone so much better if I had my phone. Saturday night would have ended with everybody sitting around a table, sharing anecdotes about business and other things that make you successful... instead of people asking who blocked their sink.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Death from Laughter

"In the third century B.C., the Greek stoic philosopher Chrysippus died of laughter after giving his donkey wine, then seeing it attempt to feed on figs"

He looks like the most serious Greek I have seen! I can't imagine him, a respected philosopher, paving the way for all future thought, would get a donkey drunk and watch him eat figs. And then find it funny enough to die.

Maybe the sculptor had just met him on a bad day. Or maybe he was jokingly pulling his 'serious look', while bursting into laughter every few seconds. Looks like you can't judge a bust by its cover*.

*I know that doesn't make sense. I was just trying to be clever.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

7) Go jogging in a foreign country

People have commented that certain items on my list are easier than others. I am in foreign countries quite often (thanks to cheap flights) so going jogging shouldn't be too hard. The thing is, the completion of each item on the list needs to be memorable, or special in some way. I had always thought that I would complete this in New York, but when I got to Copacabana Beach, and saw the path for joggers all around the bay, I decided I had to do it there.

I took three days preparing. Each morning I would wake up, realise I still felt tired from the night before, and decide tomorrow would be better. By preparing I hope you didn't think I meant training.

The day finally came. I put on the vest, left the hostel at about 10am and walked to Copacabana Beach (didn't want to tire myself before I can actually see the sea, of course). I got to the beach, walked onto the jogging path, and starting running on the wrong (right) side (silly every country in the world other than England, Australia, and a few others).

Just like every other jog I start, after about 30 seconds I wanted to stop, though knew I couldn't. I just tried to listen to my music, watch the people going past, and think about nothing else. In the distance I could see the end of Copacabana, as it curves perfectly so you can always see the whole front.

The jog itself was fairly uneventful, so I won't dedicate much time to it. My headphones fell out a couple of times, my shoulder started to hurt, and I thought I was running a little bit like a gimp, but it was okay.

When I got to the end of the beach I sat on a sea wall watching Brazillian fishermen. It felt serene. I had my legs dangling over the water (though holding on so I didn't fall off the wall into the violent waves) and sat thinking about everything. This blog isn't really a place where I write my moans and emotions, so I will just leave it as 'I was thinking deeply about everything', while watching the whole of Copacabana go about its business.

Something snapped me out of my thoughts, as out of the corner of my eye I could see the man next to me tipping water out of his bottle, onto the rocks. This annoyed me a little bit, I didn't want to carry water, so I was quite thirsty, plus its expensive... and here he is just tipping his away. I looked across to see why he was doing it, and weirdly he wasn't. He had both hands on his fishing rod, standing there looking ahead. What confused me more is that he was still tipping water. As my head slowly tilted down I was shocked to see that this nice fisherman was standing, penis out, no handed peeing onto the rocks. I was shocked. I have seen men pee before, but no handed, in public, while fishing? This man was a master. A dirty, filthy master. I no longer wanted a drink.

I got up and started to walk to the beach. I passed a TV crew filming some acting. I think it was quite a popular program since there were a lot of crew and people watching.

The side of the beach I was on seemed mainly reserved for sports, so there wasn't many people around. I walked down to the sea and sat down. The waves were about 30cm from my feet, on a tide that doesn't visibly ever go in or out, though occasionally shocked you by going much further up than it looks. I started to think again, and somewhat meditate. I don't know what meditating is, so I can only guess what I was doing was meditating. I didn't really have my legs crossed and hands out, and I wasn't making 'mmmm' noises, but I was picturing myself on a desert island, thinking what I would do. I felt happy on my desert island, and I was picking fruit, and adding things to my house made of wood, and looking at animals in the trees.

I am too reliant on people, in that I like to try and have a lot of friends, and get sad if they don't seem bothered about me... but when I was thinking about being on the desert island I felt like I didn't really need anyone, and that I am quite happy in my own company. This was progress.

I woke up a while later. I'm not sure at which point I fell asleep, and I hope however I did it it didn't look silly to the people walking past, who I will never see again. I got up and walked back to the hostel.

When I got back I got changed. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was still wearing a vest, though this vest was permanently sunburned onto my skin. When I left in the morning it didn't seem sunny enough to use any sunblock, but it must have sneaked out while I slept. Not only did I have a vest sunburn (which I think shows me dedication to Captain Vestman), I also had a bright red face, minus a prominent white curl on my forehead that must have blocked out a spiral of sun. It was embarrassing. Many people commented.

The jog felt quite memorable, mainly for the 'soul searching', peeing and sunburn... so I am quite happy to cross number 7 off my list!

Friday, 8 April 2011

80) Build a card tower with 4 on the bottom

Sitting in a hostel in Buzios, a small town on the coast of Brazil, wearing a mosquito repelling jungle shirt, I sat talking to two Israeli guys and two Argentinian girls. I say talking to, I can't speak Spanish, so half of the conversation is missed unless important enough to have translated. I generally became fidgety from the heat, and started playing with cards.

I have never been able to stack cards. It hadn't ever been an issue until I realised this fact. Since then I have felt like a disabled child when sat around other people stacking cards. I first realised I couldn't do it in college. We were sat around a table, obviously bored with any game we had started playing and started stacking cards. I was able to stack two next to each other but any more knocked them over. My friends were able to build towering fortresses, two cards high. One person wowed everyone with a monstrous 3 card high tower. I was in silent envy.

Over the years, the envy manifested, and I no longer talk to this person. I think it's because of the cards.

Anyway, without even thinking of number 80 on my list, I stacked two cards. "That was incredibly easy", I thought to myself. So impressed with my feat, I took a photo.

It didn't just stop there. I stacked two next to it. I wasn't overly confident in my abilities so I immediately stacked one on top before they fell. I have never been so pleased.

Then something flicked in my mind. My list! Number 80! I have to build one with 4 on the bottom. I didn't want to let myself get too excited with the thought though. The only reason I added this to my list is because when I am old, and all items are completed, I didn't want to be lost in a world of nothing more to do. There would always be this one thing that was always just out of reach.

Keeping the thought only in the back of my mind I continued stacking, learning new techniques along the way. Four along the bottom happened pretty quickly, the three on top were painless, though my hand shook as I placed the two above. My stacking was enjoyed by one of the Israeli guys (who I suspect looked on with envy, and who probably won't be speaking to me anymore...).

I was so close. Suddenly everybody became an enemy. It would only take one bang of the table, or a hapless blow, and my dreams would be crushed. Keeping one eye firmly fixed on the surrounding travellers, and one on the tower (I had to position myself so that they were the other side of the tower, or I would have quickly got a headache...) I stacked the last card!!

I was very pleased with myself. But why stop there? I was a card stacking machine. Nobody could stop me. I had already considered buying tickets to Japan to help rebuild the tsunami damaged buildings with packs of London playing cards (bought from Birmingham Airport...). I kept stacking, and stacking...

I never dreamed I would beat the 4 base with a 5 base! I was getting irresponsible now, I felt I should take the cards down, in risk of card damage to the table and surrounding areas if anything should make it fall. I looked down and saw a small pile of remaining cards. I started thinking about how the world would be if Newton decided to stop after just two laws. Every action would no longer have an equal and opposite reaction. Nasty people would be able to walk around punching nice people, and they wouldn't have to be worried about someone punching them back. Thankfully, Newton didn't quit, and neither can I. I kept stacking...

Success. I had not only completed item 80, but I had completed the fictional 80.5, build a card tower using every card in the pack! I almost never want to get married and have children, to avoid the awkwardness of when people ask "what is the happiest moment of your life", and I have to pretend I just didn't think they meant including those 'obvious ones'.

Annoyingly, there are only 52 cards in a pack, and not 57, but this wasn't the time to nit-pick and moan about the lack of a 5th, much smaller card suit (though, if it were to exist it should be a vest - life would be awesome if you can win a poker hand with the Ace of Vest).