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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Midsummer Epiphany in a Year of Graft

Its funny what jet lag and exhaustion does for a man.

This morning I woke at 6am (far too early) and forced myself to go for the first run of the year (i've a half ironman in 10 weeks, so kind of makes sense) After some initial spluttering it turned out ok. As all you runners out there know, the best thing about a run is that it clears the head and so here i find myself writing my thoughts on paper while my bacon burns...

For those who haven't read this blog before, a quick disclaimer - while I do intend to just jot down my honest thoughts about the world. None of these thoughts are remotely politically correct, so if you have an issue with honesty, or get faux offended by me making fun of fat people, skinny people, tall people, short people, black people, white people yellow people and kind of brownish people, gay people, trump supporters, Inca princesses, the funny way asian people pronounce things, hillary clinton, leftists. (Have I left anything out?) Then don't read this blog.

And of course if you are a winner in life, who shares my 'samui' sense of humour, please read on...

This morning, while 'cleaning out the cobwebs' on this frankly slow and plodding run, like many of you i found myself thinking of my life and what I'm doing, and what I'm not doing, and how to do what I'm not doing and want to do. So i made a few resolutions for myself -

One thing I notice is that while lots of people do new year resolutions, why doesn't anyone do midsummer-resolutions? Its probably a better time to do it to be honest. The sun's shining, there are less temptations, more reason to have a mankini-body. So just to be a trend-setter, here are mine -

1. I won't drink alcohol until 2nd September (this ludicrous triathlon date which i haven't done any training for yet)
2. I won't get married
3. I won't have sexual relations with any animals.

If anyone see's me doing any of those terrible things, I will buy you a drink.

I just came back from Japan so i'll write some quick thoughts on the trip later....

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Last Post

So, dear readers, I'm afraid to say that its likely i'll stop posting on here so often now.

I must admit, it was great fun to write about the various ludicrous situations I found myself in around the world these last few years, and to be honest, nothing has changed in these last 3 months. I had a great time in Japan again, and God knows where else, I forgot now, but I couldn't help but think about the sheer Narcassism of Facebook  posts and all the various blogs out there that make out this amazing fun and happy life lived by everyone, but which is in fact if you're not careful, ends up being lived out for the benefit of your voyeurs.

The reason I began to write this blog was in order to learn how to write better, (and of course to rant a little about the stupidity of the world) and I think i've achieved that to some extent. But to be completely honest and selfish about it, I go on adventures round the world, not for Facebook likes, not for views, or the acceptance and validation of random people, but because I enjoy them, and the writing about them part just became a chore that detracted from the overall experience. It's like taking photos - I really can't be bothered about it any more, because it really ruins the moment.

Anyway, I hope some of it inspired some of you to go out and have your own adventures instead of reading about other peoples.

The good news is that my new book is about to come out, called 'Recession Proof Real Estate', so look out for that, and i'm working on my second novel which I hope will be about 2.5 million times better than my first.

Anyway, farewell and I'll keep the archive on here to amuse you all on rainy days and to ensure my political career never gets off the ground...til then i'll leave you with a few recent photos of Japan...

Shinto Temples at night are Pretty Spooky places

Me and a random official guy

Only in Japan....

Confirming my ongoing fight to promote sexism throughout society

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Las Vegas and the future of Surveillance

What is it with Las Vegas and flunkies?

I was getting a taxi today from a rather upmarket Las Vegas hotel, and they have a guy who asks you in a patronising voice where you want to go, and then opens the door for you. All competely superflous stuff that nobody actually needs in any way (especially if you're planning to go to the strip club) I also noticed everyone giving this guy a tip for such a non-service. Now waitresses and waiters I can understand, since they actually provide a useful service, but nosey parker door opening, borderline aggressive begging flunkies? No thanks. Anyway, I got a cuttingly sarcastic (i.e. fuck you, hope you die you cheapo non tipper) 'have a great day' as I didn't give him any tip for the nothing he provided. Fair enough he's not working for any salary but he also isn't providing any kind of service...

Anyway, a bigger shock was an hour ago, when I got another taxi to the xxx casino, walked up to the single deck blackjack, changed up $70 (I wanted to play quickly to double up to $140 for a small poker tournament.) As soon as I got my chips, the pit boss came over to the dealer and told her, 'Sorry this guy isn't allowed to play blackjack.'  Of course she thought he was kidding, but he wasn't.

Within 5 minutes of being in the casino, talking to nobody, and not giving over any ID or anything that could give away my identity, they were able to confirm, purely from my face from when i was last there (last October or so) - exactly who I am and, sadly, the fact that I'm banned from playing Blackjack in their casino.

What does this mean? Of course, The xxxx possibly spent millions of dollars on a super duper facial recognition system to stop guys like me taking them for lots of money. But its bigger than this. Is this the future of western society? The potential uses for facial biometrics are pretty amazing. Capturing criminals or 'terrorists' by simply putting out their data on CCTV and waiting for them to go to the shops? Detecting fraud? Even finding dates or the next perfect face of TV could all be done one way or another here. Certainly makes for reasonable paranoia while staying here in Las Vegas.  Most casinos on the strip at least, must therefor know exactly where I am, how many casino chips I have, how much i'm up or down, and whether they should let me keep playing or ask me to leave...Imagine that extrapolated into city wide areas? Welcome to the future, dear friends, Big Brother really is watching you...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sauna Etiquette for Non Finns/Estonians/Russians

If the only thing you could hear in the gym sauna today was my palm slapping my forehead, then all would have been well. But it wasn’t. I don’t know, to sit in the sauna today, watching 3 fully grown but plainly dysfunctional men, unable to be away from their i-phones for 5 minutes, bleeping away I could not but despair - Tyler Durton was right, and by the look of the way western manhood is going, he’s getting more right by the second.

Your lack of Sauna etiquette is not your fault, dear Americans. I understand they don’t teach you it at school and you’re too ignorant to read what it says outside the sauna. If it’s any consolation, Brits are just the same (on a less loud/high five level admittedly), when it comes to knowing how to behave in that sacred Baltic Grotto, so I think its time I tell the world a little about how it should be in there…

Ok lets start at the beginning.  The sauna, to take it back to its roots, really is a sacred, serene place in Nordic/Baltic culture. It’s where many babies were traditionally born. Its where business is conducted, vodka drunk, even relationships consummated. But all in all it’s a place where the family, or close friends congregate to relax, meditate, sweat out the bad stuff, and contemplate the meaning of life. In silence – i.e. not sitting tweeting on their i-phones. And definitely not shaving your armpits in front of everyone. Or sitting fully clothed with shoes on.

Ok lets put some bullet points in so next time you go to take a sauna, you know what to do.

1.     Go naked. The point of the sauna is to sweat out your toxins not to dirty your clothes and skin. If you’re in mixed company,  ladies will tend to wear a towel round to protect modesty (although they will get to see your parts, guys, is it such a bad thing?) If you’re with a bunch of guys, sweating and naked, it’s not a gay thing despite your insecurities, unless you’re actually gay, in which case you probably visit a very different kind of sauna. However if a guy gets a hard on, then you probably don’t want to invite him next time. And if the girls don’t towel up, then you’re probably on a promise. Or in Sweden.
2.     Don’t talk loudly at people. Especially not strangers. Ok I understand it’s not easy to shut up for a second, but really, its not that hard.
3.     Actually, don’t talk at all. That’s really not the point of the sauna. You have bars to shout at each other and hug strangers.
4.     Don’t bring headphones, ipods or phones into the sauna.  Apart from the fact that its not very good for them, its also pretty bad manners.
5.     Pour water on the sauna, to increase the humidity and open your pores. Ignore the warnings on American saunas to not pour water on it. They are plainly idiots and don’t know anything, not least the whole point of a sauna.
6.     If you can increase the temperature, do so. This will get rid of unwanted men on iphones. Or at least will break their iphones which serves them right.
7.     I know this sounds hard, but after the sauna, jump in a VERY cold shower, or run out and roll in the snow. The sauna (when you pour water on it) opens the pores, and so the biting cold will close them again, and leave you feeling (afterwards) pretty amazing. Your girlfriend will thank you.
8.     Use birch branches to both waft (to increase the ‘burn’) and to beat yourself or others. You really need to take turns on this – basically lie down and get another to beat you with the birch branch all over. It helps the pores again, makes it hotter, and pretty much doubles the whole sauna experience. If there are no birch leaves, just beat the guy with the i-phone with his phone until he leaves.
9.     You should repeat the hot/cold combination 2,3 even 4 times if you can. Don’t stay out in the snow for more than 5 minutes though. It can feel great, and you want to go to sleep. But that’s because you have hypothermia.
10. Don’t wear shoes and socks in the sauna. It defeats the whole purpose. I mean do I really have to say this?
11. Fat people – sauna does not lose you weight or get you fit. You just lose sweat, which comes back in a few hours.  Fat guy in the sauna today – Please try not to fart in the sauna, it was disgusting.

Ok so now everyone in Western New York is educated on Sauna etiquette, I’m looking forward to going into the sauna next week and having birch leaves waiting and the ultimate zen experience….

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Driving in Ecuador...(and remaining alive)

If you told me ten years ago i'd be tearing down the Ecuadorian Coast Road at 100km per hour, downing shots of rum with an Inca Princess who keeps grabbing the steering wheel, while narrowly avoiding donkeys and children then i'd order a drink of what you just had...but there you go, here i am now finally in surfing HQ, Montanita, Ecuador, with a surprisingly intact car and a splitting headache...
This bus was racing up the hard shoulder. Kind of funny until it crashes.

I plan to drive right round the country, up the Andes and through Quito, then down the spine of the mountains to Banos and Cuenca, then back to the insanity that is Guayaquil. Driving is perhaps safer than Taxi's, as this Japanese Honeymoon couple found out (they were robbed and fatally shot in Guayaquil just there, I hope my mum isn't reading this)  I'm trying not to jinx my driving plans and avoiding kidnap, robbery, and plain old crashing by offering you, dear reader, some tips on latin american driving...

1. Don't do it. When I think about it, the danger involved in driving in Latin American cities if you're used to normal countries with broad rules of the road are outweighed by advantages of taking the (also dangerous) bus, even if you are likely to lose your camera and wallet on the bus. You'd better just not bothering really...but in case you are daft enough...

Oh...and try to avoid travelling in the rainy season...

2. Keep a constant eye out on either side. There are no rules at all here. People undertake, overtake, race along the hard shoulder (especially buses I notice) The good fun part is that you can do the same. It's even more fun if you peep your horn like mad while doing it, that usually shuts them up.

3. When a truck or bus is peeping the horn frantically and coming out of a junction, that means you should give it some respect, because it doesn't care that you have right of way- it's bigger than you and doesn't care about its passengers, and it's made its decision that its going straight in front of you, so slow down, swerve and avoid it as it hurtles into your lane right in front of you on two wheels...

4. Don't worry about speed limits. It's all about how well you can swerve when guys come out in front of you, and how good you are at missing the assorted dogs, donkeys and children who seem to mill around on the busiest and fastest roads.

5. Keep a handy bunch of $20 bills, in case complications related not particularly to your driving or state of inebriation, more related to the very low salaries of the average policeman and the fact that you are a gringo and probably will want to avoid Ecuadorian 500 to a cell prisons...
The wonderful roads of Montanita

The wonderful dead bodies on the sand of Montanita....

The roads so far in Ecuador have to be fair been quite good though. They've spent a fair amount on infrastructure - lets see how the winding roads up the mountains go before I start showing off, as i might be showing off from the luxury of a hospital bed...

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Things to Avoid While Travelling No. 143 - Wallets (and No. 158., Airport Food)

I'm writing this while trying to consume the inconsumable. An 8 euro Airport panini, here in Amsterdam Airport, that must have been sitting there for weeks. So there's the lesson of the day - avoid overpriced and generally poor airport food, even if you are hungry.

But back to the main point....When I was packing for my current trip (to Ecuador), I thought to myself - why do i have all these wallets and never use them? So, like a beaten husband who keeps coming back for more to his abusive wife, I blocked out the why's/why nots, and went back to old habits, put my cash into one and off I went, completely forgetting why I never use a wallet (and I recommend you don't either)

And then, last night I remembered. Last time i took a wallet out with me, I got pickpocketed (in Jaco, Costa Rica) And yes, everything, cash, bank cards etc etc were all in there.

So last night, between walking the 100 metres from the taxi to the Casino Holland, with about 200 Euros cash in my wallet (and little else, thank God) I got to the casino with no wallet. They're pretty amazing. A completely inconsequential brush on a busy street, and hey presto its gone without you even noticing.

Anyway, my conclusion? A wallet in a busy street, (especially in Europe, thank you dear gypsies) by and large means a loss. Maybe not now, maybe not the second time, but I dont know, I can't seem to last a week with one these days, they're worse than umbrellas...

...which I dont think i'll bother with in the lovely warm rain of the equator, where i'll be (slightly poorer) in 14 hours time. I'll write about that soon, til then, hope you all had a merry christmas.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Day I met God in Ueno Park

One morning, a long time ago, when I was perhaps a lot more shallow than I am now, I landed in Tokyo from Europe, and my hotel room wasn’t ready until that afternoon. So in a jetlag haze, I took a little walk around Ueno Park, the scruffy old green lung of North Tokyo, and sat down to watch the world go by. I’d almost forgotten what a strange and amazing day that was, so now I think I’ll share it with you...

  In my daze, I noticed that an ancient wizened old homeless guy was sitting beside me, and without realising it, struck up a conversation in English, which he spoke fluently. Although I was so jetlagged and exhausted I could hardly keep my eyes open, we talked all day about philosophy and the meaning of life from an eastern perspective and western perspective, and how in, fact there wasn’t a great difference from the fundamentals of what perhaps Jesus really meant Christianity to be (no, not silly statues of the virgin Mary and supporting Zionist colonial plans, you fools), the old pagan ways of the west and the Shintoism of Japan, and how really, the rules of life were the same no matter where you are in the world. There are good and bad people on both sides of every fence, and many ‘bad’ people have good traits and many ‘good’ people have bad traits (bad spirits inside them that haven’t managed to throw off), and really, the love of money and material goods, of conquest and domination, were just bad spirits inside a man. He talked and talked and everything he said seemed like deeper wisdom, and for years afterwards I often thought about this Yoda of Ueno park, and who he was, and how he became homeless and, did he really exist or was this old man actually God speaking to me in some way to help change my life’s direction and understand why I’m actually here?

I can say I’ve learned my lessons slowly. But if it wasn’t for this guy, I wouldn’t have bought books comparing Buddhism to Christianity, or the 'crazy' writings of Zachariah Sitchin, Graham Hancock or Daniel Pinchbeck. And if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have considered Ayahausca, which to all who’ve taken it would agree is a profoundly life changing experience. But strangely enough I thought about this man again the other day, probably for the first time since I’d taken Ayahuasca, and realised that all the time it wasn’t that he was God, it was just that he was a man with the light of God shining brightly in him. An enlightened man, if you want to call it that.

But now thanks to him, I can see that we all have a piece of Gods love in us, he’s everywhere, its just that, for almost everyone (at least in the west) that piece of their soul and is hidden so deep inside that, that they’re trapped in the web of their own short term animal-like cycle of needing ‘stuff’, and of needing the fix of temporary ‘satisfaction’ that distracts them from taking a moment to realise the true reality and the true love of life. ‘Life’ for most people involves TV shows, sport, the soap opera and politics of everyday gossip, political correctness and other false ‘causes’, fast food, prescription drugs, casual sex, getting drunk, recreational drug use, pretend illnesses like ADDT and other attention seeking cries for help…you get gist) every last one a short term fix and none of them connected in any way to the reality and true beauty of the world.

Maybe the wisdom of the Ayahuasca is beginning to kick in finally, that I’m beginning to see the cancer of the ‘western’ consumer world for what it is, and can see how the ‘answers’ to these cravings simply make you want more. The ‘bad guys’ even created new language to distract, divide, confuse, and ultimately, cause needless conflict – (smart huh?) - How do you react to someone calling you a ‘racist’ (always by idiotic white guys with beards) or a ‘sexist’ (usually by those same spineless men, although sometimes by girls as a sly compliment) when this is every time a trap question because the words actually have no definitive meaning and were constructed originally as trap questions to damage reputations by avoiding real issues. But this is just the start - The legal system is changing. The media is pushing the moronic masses to accept different boundaries of what’s appropriate, and what’s acceptable in terms of ‘the mans’ interference in your life. And believe you me, your voluntary enslavement has a long way to run yet – so subtle, you wont even notice.

So what’s the answer? Should you stop watching crappy TV dramas? Should you realise that the Bills vs. the Redskins or Arsenal vs. Man. City mean absolutely nothing? No, of course not. For some people, maybe you, that and hamburgers all they have to look forward to in life. Maybe you’re too far gone to accept that reality is not the slavery you’ve already sleepwalked into.

The true answer is that there is no answer, except to ask yourself truly the question that why the homeless old man, with no bank account, and no material possessions, who lives free in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, is infinitely happier and more content in his life than you, or anyone you have ever known?