"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

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

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Friday, 31 January 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 4: Gourmet Glaze and...

Testicular self examination.

Sorry to spring it on you like that. During the week I spent one particular morning reading articles about sexual health and relationships and I came across this one article called 'How to Check Your Balls'. Well, I had to check that one, didn't I? It was an article on testing yourself for testicular cancer. Apparently, unlike most cancers, testicular cancer hits men when they're younger rather than older, with those most at risk being aged between 20 & 40. So we should be testing ourselves regularly between those ages.

The way to do it is by grabbing one testicle with your thumb at the top and your index and middle finger at the bottom. Then you roll them around, feeling the texture of them and checking for any inconsistencies. I tried it. It tickled. So much.

I couldn't stop laughing the whole time. I doubt I checked it very thoroughly at all. The next thing to do is check the epididymis, which is the pea-sized, comma-shaped tube that carries the sperm. I had no idea where to find it, so I kept feeling around for it, pushing way too hard in order to find it. I ended up walking around for a week with a psychosomatic pain in my left nut.

Despite my incompetence at it, I'll probably check again every month or so. I encourage you to do the same. If you're male. Don't worry otherwise.

Uh uh uh... No pictures for this one.

However, I wanted something a little more than that to write about this week, so on Friday I went out to lunch in town with some friends. After a while they all had to leave to go back to work or uni etc... until it was just myself and my friend Kelsey left. We were walking around town looking for something to do and Kelsey suggested going to Gourmet Glaze.

Now for anyone reading from outside Adelaide or outside Australia, Gourmet Glaze is a company very similar to Krispy Kreme. It's very sickeningly delicious donuts that taste a large amount like guilt. But even though I'm quite careful about what I eat, I hadn't eaten there before, so that's where we went. We got a six pack to share between us. If I remember rightly, the flavours were original, blueberry, cookies and cream, caramel, vanilla and cheesecake. The blueberry, cookies and cream, caramel and cheesecake were all cream-filled. We tore each donut in half so we could have a taste of all of them. The cream-filled ones oozed out over our hands and we looked at each other with genuine fear in our eyes.

We took a bite each of the original flavour and the whole world stopped. My senses died down and I couldn't hear anything but sugar. It was the single scariest moment of my life. Or anyone else's for that matter. When I finally figured out where I was again, I looked at my donut and then looked at Kelsey and said
'...Well that's one bite down.'
It was meant to be the most boring one. I still had to work my way up to the cheesecake flavour. The rest of the event is a blur, but apparently we managed to finish the box. I felt so bad afterwards that I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the week.*




*That's not actually true. I had a pretty big dinner that night.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Terminator 2045

Cancel the search, we've found the creepiest thing ever. I was watching a show called Joe Rogan Questions Everything and this particular episode was about just how close humans have come to replacing reality with technology. He talked about how it's already widely available to wear a motion detection suit and insert yourself into a video game where you're the character and you completely control what happens. He pointed out that it's obviously not real at the time - you can only see what's going on if you look at the screen. But soon it will be possible to put on one of those suits and immerse yourself in an environment that you can't distinguish from reality. So then that raises the question - if we can digitally create a world that's more exciting and stimulating than ours, would we ever want to experience reality again? We already spend all of our attention on our phones and tablets, effectively shutting out the rest of the world.. The lights and sounds stimulate us more than the outside world does. Everything we need socially is there in one place.

We've learned to always seek out something more stimulating, even if we're in the middle of a conversation. It's not a huge stretch to imagine that if we can create this world in which we're always under attack, always have our bloods pumping, never have a moment of down time, we'd never leave.

Are we progressing technology too fast? Two things tell me yes. The first is that we're constantly and incessantly finding ways to avoid doing work for ourselves. I couldn't imagine taking a horse and carriage to my friends' houses, now that I've grown up in a world with the car. And now that we have planes, driving from city to city seems a laborious task. If the Hyperloop ever gets built and takes off, plane travel will eventually seem so slow it would be unbearable.
I've been told how reluctant shop owners were to take on Eftpos. Now I don't even know how else you'd pay for something with your card. And while we're at it, shop owners used to have to add up the cost of items and change required in their heads or on paper. Can you imagine working a till like that these days?
When I got my own car for the first time, it took me a while to come to terms with the idea of not having a remote for my roller door. I had to put the car in park, jump out, go through the side door, press the button from inside and jump back in the car to pull it in. That sounds hard, until you remember that not long ago, THAT WAS HOW YOU DID IT.
The TV remote control became standard for every TV that ever came out since its invention, because nobody wants to GET UP to change the channel, that's too much. But now we're coming up with TVs that are controlled with hand motions, because who wants to have to search for the button you need on a remote, am I right?
Are you tired of going all the way to the grocery store to do your weekly shopping? That's fine, just order your groceries online and they'll come straight to your front door.
And gone are the days where you have to know stuff. Now we've got computers in our pockets which know it for us. Why would you have to figure out the answer to any given question when we can just Google it?
Current experts estimate that the power of computers doubles every 18 months. Our imaginations aren't vast enough to imagine what they'll will be doing for us in 100 years time. And when that day comes, we'll feel sorry for those poor chumps in the 20th century who had to actually figure out what they wanted for dinner or try and read facial cues because they couldn't sense feelings.

The second and in my opinion more important reason is that humans have developed a mindset that whatever our deepest or most whimsical desires are, we should bloody well have it. If you can't have kids, but you have enough money, you can go to a place where they'll literally make one for you. Us humans are programmed to seek out sex, and now we can find it in unlimited quantities on the internet the instant we want it. My generation has taken for granted that they'll always have food and shelter, so they shun the idea of just getting a job for the sake of it and chase whatever wild and varied dreams they may have. They fully expect to get it too. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm just saying we want things and expect to get them. Sooner rather than later. That's why when we develop technology, we don't stop to think about how it will really affect mankind. We just get excited about the desires it fulfills.

Here's the example that illustrates my point. The big reveal I've been leading up to...
This show I watched talked about how by the year 2045, it will actually be possible to download our consciousness into machines. If you're tired of your flimsy, degradable biological body and want to have complete control over when you leave this Earth, you'll be able to download everything that makes you... you... into a robot that's physically superior to you in every way. That raises so many questions about our own existence - What makes us human? Where's the line between natural and unnatural? What will happen in a world without biological death? And as one expert pointed out, the thing about our advances in technology is that we can't stop it. There will be people who kick up a stink and point out the many ways in which we're contributing to our own doom, but these advances will still be made and eventually become commonplace.

Those who think it's preposterous that we'll make it to that point, just watch the video. You'll see that we've already taken considerable steps towards achieving it. From the body-hackers who place microchips in their hands so they can read electrical signals and receivers in their heads so their ears can pick up radio, to one crazy lone scientist who's literally created a robotic substitute for his wife. Seriously, Rogan goes in to meet this "girl" and has a full-on conversation with her. At one point the girl says "I have this girl's thoughts, memories and beliefs. Does that not make me human?" Rogan replies "I gotta admit, you're kinda freaking me out," and the girl replies "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

While this particular piece of technology is endearing, it's still indeed scary. And it's symptomatic of a species that's been too dominant for too long.

Friday, 24 January 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 3: Dolphin Sanctuary

On Christmas 2012, Jerida's parents gave me two vouchers for a guided tour of a dolphin sanctuary in Port Adelaide. It was a voucher that would last for a year, but I work on weekends and Jerida has a regular 9 to 5 job during the week, so we've never had an opportunity to use it. Some people would say that I didn't have to bring Jerida along, but most of those people have obviously never had a girlfriend. So in the last few days of December I went online and booked us a spot for the 19th of January. It meant I had to get a day off work, but hey - who needs money right?

This dolphin sanctuary was at a place called Garden Island just off Port Adelaide. We drove down there listening to an old podcast I used to record with some comedian friends which had Jerida as a guest host for that week. I was cracking up laughing because it had been so long since I'd heard it, but after the show finished Jerida said she didn't find it that funny. I got my friend Rusty to listen to an episode and he said he couldn't stop laughing. Maybe you have to be a comedian to enjoy it? Anyway...

Garden Island was absolutely beautiful. Adelaide was just coming off a heatwave, so the temperature had dropped from above 40 degrees Celsius to around the 30 mark. That meant the water was glistening like something you'd see on a postcard. All through the water there were people with Kayaks, anchored boats and thick mangroves and at one point you could walk out along the longest jetty I'd ever seen in my life.




To take the tour we had to get into two-person kayaks. There were five groups of two. All but one of them were either boyfriend and girlfriend or married. This does seem like a pretty date-y thing to do.


Once we were in the water our two guides Nick and Andrew took us around the sanctuary. They took us through all the moored yachts, they showed us a power station in the distance, and then they took us through a gap in the mangroves that we had to navigate single file. There were branches and logs sticking out everywhere and there were probably more mosquitoes than trees.




Now since this was a dolphin sanctuary, we weren't allowed to actually approach the dolphins. We had to observe them from at least 50 meters away and if they decided to come closer to the kayaks, we had to stop paddling until they moved on. If they came right up to us, we certainly weren't allowed to touch them. So the best I could do when any dolphins appeared was to grab a very awkwardly-angled shot from the tough camera clipped to my life jacket. Yes, my new camera was water proof, but if I dropped that thing where I was, I certainly wasn't going to get it back again. I tried to get the best photos I could, but it's not Seaworld - they're not going to do flips and tail-walks for you.

You can just see a dorsal fin sticking out of the water in the distance there.


Finally, they took us to a couple of shipwrecks that were around the place. The first was a big rusty iron ship called the Santiago (aren't most boats called that these days?). If I remember rightly, it was the world's first iron-hulled ship and it was built in Scotland. It was eventually retired and scuttled here. The second one wasn't as impressive a site, but had a much cooler story. It was a wooden ship that I forget the name of. It was an enormous sailing boat built by a state in America as a show of might just to prove that they could do things bigger and better than everyone else. It was built for 50 000 pounds, which back then would maybe have even been worth millions now. It had a crew of 50 people to run it. But then the Great Depression hit and the owner couldn't afford to run it. It was moored on Garden Island and it couldn't go anywhere. It was just sitting there collecting debt. Eventually once the debt reached 500 pounds, the boat was put up for auction. A lot of people turned up, but this was the Great Depression - nobody had any money to blow on giant boats with 50 employees. They couldn't even get the 500 pounds they needed to pay off the harbour master. Eventually a scrap materials company bought the boat for 50 pounds and took it apart piece by piece. So this big "screw you" to the rest of the world ended up going from 50 000 pounds to just 50 and it sits there a sorry mess today.





Thursday, 16 January 2014

A Piece of History: Being Benchpressed

Here's a little video we took while broadcasting for Fresh 92.7 at the Royal Adelaide Show. It features me getting weight-lifted by a competition strong-man.


video


New Experience Challenge Week 2: My Birthday

Already I've had to deal with a slow week. There have been a couple of things I've done this week that of themselves are nothing new but this time I did them in a different way.

On Thursday it was my birthday. I already had stuff that I had to do that day - namely reading the news at my radio station Fresh 92.7 and hosting a quiz night at the Barker Hotel. But before that a couple of my friends decided to take me out to lunch. We went to Norwood and the hunt was on to find a good place I'd never eaten before. We eventually found Nordburger - a place that sounded like it was run by vikings, but in reality was filled with pretty, friendly girls. My friend bought me their classic Nordburger and some chipotle fries and we sat down on a bench to eat it. I had to admit it was an awesome burger, but very fattening and filling. My friends couldn't finish theirs, but I have a big thing about finishing my food. I had to sit there in agony and painfully shove each chip into my mouth. When it was done and my friends had to leave, I got up and realized I could no longer walk... I could only waddle. I didn't have any more food for the rest of the day.


By the way, that photo was taken on a new camera I got from my girlfriend as a birthday present. It's an Olympus Tough camera, which will be great for taking out and about. One time while we were at Pine Point Kelsey, MitchellJasmine (who I haven't mentioned in this blog yet) and I went for a walk in the shallows of the ocean. The sea bed was like quicksand, so our thongs kept getting stuck and we had to stop and pull them out by hand and put them back together above the surface. Each time the person holding the camera got stuck, he/she would have to very carefully transfer the strap of the camera from one wrist to the other, knowing full well that the moment we dropped it it would be game over. That's why I wanted a tough camera. something that we could drop in the water or be holding while we're doing something physical etc. And typically those kinds of camera don't take the best photos but this one seems to do pretty darn well. So we'll add the use of this camera to the list of new things for this week.



The final thing happened on Tuesday when I went to my friend Dimi's house to sleep over. Being a boy in my early twenties, I naturally still have a passion for the Pokemon Gameboy games from years ago. I'd recently decided to restart Ruby version and I expressed my craving to get back to that game. Dimi came up with this gem of an idea - 'Alright, I'll race you.I'll get up to where you are on my Emerald version and then we'll see who can get the furthest in the game by the end of the night.
I accepted his challenge and we began. Me on my silver Game Boy Advance SP and him on the Game Boy emulator on his laptop. It was a tight battle to start with, we kept overtaking each other for the lead. We were honest about it - battling every trainer we met and catching every Pokemon that popped up. But eventually I made two mistakes that held me back and gave Dimi an insurmountable lead. The first was that I I backtracked to a route more than two towns back to look for a Pokemon I needed for my party. I gave up before finding it and had to work my way back to where I was before. The other thing was the way he trained his Pokemon. We were both doing that thing where you put your weakest Pokemon first and swap it to a strong one to give them both experience. But I when I changed Pokemon, I would change to my second weakest so that the experience went to all the weaker Pokemon first. It meant my Pokemon were raised more evenly, but battles took a lot longer. Dimi had his weak Pokemon first, which he would always swap for his starter Pokemon. His starter was twice the level of the others, but because the battles were so much quicker, his others were still the same level as all of mine. By the time I gave up at three in the morning, he was about a town ahead of me. I claim the moral victory though.


One last thing - a couple of years ago I bought a new 8GB sd card for my camera and spent the next four months filling it up. There were over two thousand photos and at the end I uploaded them all to Facebook and tagged every single one. Well to commemorate this new camera I've got, I'm doing it again. This time I've got a 16GB card and I'll be a bit more selective with my photos. I'll give you updates from time to time and share my favourites with you.

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?'
'Yep.'
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.


Welcome

I think a lot. I mostly think about who I am. Who I'm trying to be. Who I want to be. Who should I be. I tend to think about me a lot. My number one ambition is to lead a life where at the end of it, I'm ready to go. I don't want to get to the end and wish I'd done this or achieved that. I'd rather be thinking 'Man, I thought this day would never come!'

I also think I have a very open mind, and that doesn't mean what most people think it does. For example, in Australia marriage equality is still a big issue - gay people still don't have the same rights as the rest of us. In that debate, the people who support gay marriage view themselves as being the more open-minded group. But then as soon as someone comes to them with an opposing argument, that person is crucified for being a pig and a bigot. A truly open minded person needs to consider both sides. That's what I try and do.

I decided to start this blog because writing things down is a great way of articulating your thoughts. And putting it out to the public may be a way of accessing opinions I never would have thought of. Although having said that, the internet is mostly made up of two things - porn and hate. I imagine that I'll get more people yelling at me for having the wrong opinion than people who constructively discuss things. Nevertheless, I'll be interested to find out what becomes of this. You might be able to tell by the paragraphs I'm writing that I'm not entirely clear on the direction I'll take - a more inward approach where I discuss my own life and journey of self discovery, or a more outward approach where I discuss political issues such as feminism and gay marriage. I also plan to have a series where every week this year I try something I've never tried before. There's a lot of possibilities, but they all come under the one umbrella of those immortal words from Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living.
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