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"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

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Friday, 10 January 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 1: An App, a chili and a Battle for the Ages

So I've tried this once before - have at least one completely new experience each week of this year. Last time I tried I think I got to around September before I ran out of ideas. This time I'm going to go all the way. It doesn't have to be anything big,  it could just be eating at a restaurant I haven't tried before or playing a new game on my phone. But preferably the more unique and left of center it is, the better.

In my first week I made the outstanding effort of trying three whole new things. The first was on New Year's Day when my friends and I went to Port Vincent for their annual New Year Gala. We'd being staying at a beach house that my best friend's family owns at Pine Point on the Yorke Peninsula and we went down there just for something to do. There were live bands, jumping castles, exhibits and people jumping off the jetty into the inviting-looking water. There was also a lot of stalls there that were filled with necklaces, t-shirts, purses, toys... and Australia's foremost hot food emporium, The Chili Factory.

Now, I'd tried chili from this place before - my girlfriend and I went up to Lobethal around Christmas time to see the lights and there was one of these stands there. But as much as I like the challenge of eating as hot a chili as I can,  I only ever tried the 10 out of 10-strength chili; There was an extra range of chilies there that only adults could try that went all the way up to 15 out of 10. That was my aim for today. I warmed up by trying the 10++ chili, which was quite hot as it was. I had to walk away for a couple of minutes to recover before going for the big stuff. I managed to rope in my friend Brooke to try the hard one with me, just to make it a bit more fun. Unfortunately they'd run out of the level 15 chili, but they still had the level 14, which was called Devil's  Delirium and was judged by the Guiness Book of Records as the second hottest chili in the world. I hadn't tried it before, so it still counts.

The lady at the stall warned us that this chili was a creeper, which means we'd feel nothing when we first put it in our mouths, but then the pain would build. I so we put a dab on the crackers provided and downed them. She was absolutely right. We felt nothing to begin with, but then I started to feel a heat slowly building and building until it brought tears to my eyes. I wrestled the zip of my bag open through a stream of tears and a very runny nose to rip out a box of tissues and go to town on it. Brooke was handling it a lot better, but she was still in pain. She turned to me and said
'We need to buy some milk.'
'Aren't you lactose intolerant?'
So we got some chocolate milk and downed it as fast as we could, trying not to let our noses drip into the carton. And that was the first new thing I tried this year.

The second thing I tried was a Nerf battle. It was the next day and we were still up at Pine Point. We'd brought all of our Nerf guns and bullets specifically so we could spend a day in warfare. I had to go out and buy one, because I'd never really used them before. The most experience I'd had with Nerf was when I borrowed someone else's two-shot shotgun to play a game of assassins in the city and when a friend gave me a one-shot pea-shooter as part of my 21st birthday present that I lovingly refer to as my Saturday Night Special. For this event I bought myself an 18-shot slam-fire gun. There were eight of us in the group, but one person didn't want to play, which made it a four-on-three battle. Half the group said they wanted to be on my team, which I think was because I'd been winning everything we tried all week, but my girlfriend Jerida says it was because no one wanted to get hurt. I'm very competitive. We set up two flags at the end of our dead-end street and prepared to play capture the flag. I was on the three-person team with Jason and Sarah. Sarah elected to stay behind and defend the flag while Jason and I went on the attack. We advanced up the road to about the middle where their two attackers (Kelsey and Mitchell) met us. It was a war of attrition until I got hit and had to run back to the base. But when I got there I found Jerida doubled over and clutching her eye. It turned out the other team's plan was for Jerida to sneak around behind play and shoot Sarah dead when she wasn't looking. But after she surprised Sarah, Sarah retaliated without thinking and got her in the eye. It stopped play for quite a while and Jerida sat out the rest of the game. Sarah decided she was feeling sick and sat out as well, so that brought the field down to three vs two. Not ideal, but we had to play with what we had. Jason and I decided to both attack rather than have on attack and one defend, and naturally that didn't last long. Kelsey and Mitch got through our defenses and took home the flag. After that we played a four player all-on-all death match where you died once you were hit three times. Brooke was our official wartime journalist. We played in the caul-de-sac at the end of the street. Kelsey won the first game. I won the second. Mitchell won the third. Then we went inside.

The group preparing for their battle.
That's me firing and retreating.

Mitchell taking advantage of me having to reload.
Kelsey going gangsta on a mo-fo.
Mitchell and Kelsey playing a bit of cat and mouse.
Kelsey and Mitchell show down while Jason mopes about losing in the background.

The final thing I tried after I got home.On our way back from Pine Point, Jason told me about an app he's used called Duo Lingo which teaches you how to speak other languages. It takes you really gradually through levels of difficulty and makes it fun to learn. I have Italian grandparents and I'm always trying to speak to them in their language. I've gotten a lot better of late, but I'm still very grammatically incorrect and can't have an in-depth conversation. So I downloaded and tried this app and very quickly it's helped. I don't know how much of a difference it's making that I know some of the rules already, but it is definitely helping.

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