30 December 2009

Day 30 of 100

I'm still making myself a better person. I'm now rolling my press ups and sit ups into a more comprehensive morning exercise routine. This 'comprehensive morning exercise routine' consists mostly of me rolling my shoulders, stretching my back, and laying on the floor psyching myself up.

The physical and mental warming up is becoming necessary, as my body isn't really used to this amount of physical activity so early in the morning. My brain is not either. Not at all.

Some highlight days.

Day 26. We're staying at Chiara's mom's place in Rome. Chiara asks me to do some push ups for her in the late afternoon, just to see how I'm doing. I've already done my daily quota. It's an unorthodox request. But I oblige. Yeah, that's right I did 31 press ups.

Day 27. Chiara is more actively involved in that she puts her feet on mine to help me in my sit-upping. She makes sexy, alluring faces at me, which layer an emotional imperative onto the physical activity

Day 29. I had an early morning train for Brussels. Which meant leaving the house at 6:15. I did my 'ups before 6 in the morning!

And I also managed to do my haikuing, though I appear to have misplaced my notebook which has the haikus in it. I will post some haikus once I find it. But here's a bonus haiku:

I lost my notebook.
Left it on the train I think
Not for the first time

For this ten-day stretch I'm touring lists.

Yesterday it was a list of awesome things, inspired by the Periodic Table of Awesomements. It's in my notebook. On the train.

Today's list, in honour of New Year's Eve, is a list of month names from the French Republican Calendar, which they tried to institute Metric Time in France following the French Revolution. Their were 10 hours in a day, and one hundred minutes in an hour. Weeks were called decades and were 10 days long. There was three of them in a month. It sounds crazy.

The month names were

Vendémiaire (from Latin vindemia, "grape harvest")
Brumaire (from French brume, "fog")
Frimaire (From French frimas, "frost")

Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, "snowy")
Pluviôse (from Latin pluvius, "rainy")
Ventôse (from Latin ventosus, "windy")

Germinal (from Latin germen, "germination")
Floréal (from Latin flos, "flower")
Prairial (from French prairie, "pasture")

Messidor (from Latin messis, "harvest")
Thermidor (or Fervidor) (from Greek thermon, "summer heat")
Fructidor (from Latin fructus, "fruit")

Happy New Year! (Or Duodi, Decade 11 of Nivôse)


28 December 2009

Egg to the Nog: Straight out of Noggin'


Great news re: egg nog.

The Chicharones (Josh Martinez and Sleep) have made a hot rap track that is a shout out/paean to the seasonal deliciousness that is the nog.

It's a take on NWA's 'Straight out of Compton' and was written and shot in 24 hours. Click on through and turn it up.

Via Ugsmag.

And if you're now got the jones for some nog, and no doubt you do get this recipe. Nog always tastes better when you kill it yourself.


20 December 2009

What's the internet?


We know the internet is a collection of tubes inside of which information whistles around the global village. It is especially important for the transmission of facts and pornography.

But not only that: you can surf on it, use it to send electronic mails, and can even go to an Amazon marketplace without leaving your home. All just by using its wireless technologies.

But what is it really?

Click through to see an awesome video that explains The Web for Beginners. It's pretty genius.

By Cassetteboy.


Day 20 of 100

Day 20 means I got 20 push ups and 20 sit ups done and on my way to making myself a better person.

I think it's working!

A couple noteworthy days.

Day 12: After getting a dozen 'ups done, I went to a drop-in yoga class with Chiara. I think I did alright; I held good to my promise not to fart.

However, some days later, I dreamt that I failed a yoga drop-in class. In addition to the fact that I doubt this is possible, I found out by receiving back some written work, on which I received 69%!

I don't know how they score written yoga tests, but where I come from scoring almost 70% is not a fail.

Anyway, I'll try and do better.

Day 17: Was tough. Possibly because it came after a hectic Day 16, in which I had class, then a meeting, then raced home from school to pick up my football gear and hustle across town to find out I wasn't 15 minutes late for indoor football. I was 45 minutes early.

And then I played my little heart out, running up and down the gymnasium. Getting sweaty and tired. I did not feel like doing 17 'ups the next morning. But I did anyway.

Day 19: I'm writing an article on the project, which means I'm doing some interviews. Day 19 I interviewed Eddie Ross who, besides being a great interview, is doing a poignant and honest comic-a-day called 100 tiny moments from my past, present, and future. Great. And there's lots more interesting projects at the Hundred Days website.

BIG NEWS: I'm going to start touring other themes from the project. This was actually organiser Josie Long's idea. I'm gonna jump on it and make my 20s about (in addition to 'upping) Haikus.

They will likely be topical haikus about my day, but I will try and sprinkle them with poetic, seasonal references. I'll wrap them up at the end, but here's today's to get started.

Holiday travel
Mean sardines in cold airports
Long lineups (or queues)


19 December 2009

Taking off for Christmas


Allegedly we're flying out to Rome on Monday morning at 7:30am, but the weather here and in Italy is cold. And snowy. It could take a whole lot of waiting at Heathrow before we get on a plane - today there were waits of hours nd hours and hours. But when we do take-off we'll be hoping the airports in Italy aren't closed, like they were today.

Coming back may be a similar clusterfuck.

They should make some holiday movies about the difficulties of getting home for the holidays..

Has anyone thought of that yet?

It's a great idea. Light, bittersweet, poignant, family-oriented comedies with delays and mishaps and miscommunications and festive sweaters and drunk uncles, and special toys and mall Santas and jingling bells and a frantic search for something... but somehow everybody would get to be together at the end and learn valuable lessons about life, themselves, relationships and the true meaning of Christmas.


15 December 2009

Up with people: Londonmet protests


It's been too long since I've been to a protest. Since I've protested. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and more subdued, but it seems like it's been many years since I gave full-throated support to a cause. Too fucking long. It's good for a person.

The cause was the mismanagement of the university funds. And the accountability of the people responsible. Basically, we were there at Moorgate, to demand that the Board of Governors of London Metropolitan University resign. Here's the Guardian recap.

But man, getting in on that protest felt good, because it was about injustice. It was personal, it was being part of something bigger, something that was right, and it was ...invigorating.

Here's the Save London Met blog

I don't know if they have decided to resign yet, but I'm happy that our position was clear.

Here's a shaky video taken shortly after the impromptu march into the Moorgate building where the B.O.G. was meeting.

UPDATE: Apparently they'll resign this summer. Great. Although now seems like a much better time to shuffle off in embarrassment, so the mess can begin to be sorted out.


12 December 2009

Christmas History - Mistletoe


Kissing under the Mistletoe is a lovely holiday tradition. But the origin is not what you think.

In nordic Northern Norway, very few plants grow. Just Christmas trees, icicles and very small amounts of mistletoe. Mistletoe has always been a big deal up there.

In 1456, there was a Christmas party near Hammerfest, Finnmark for the tiny-but-successful Hammerfest Jingle Bell Co. The king of the Hammerfest Jingle Bell Co. was the historically-renowned cheapskate Olaf Furansen (Olaf the Cheapskate).

Though the office had done a whiz-bang business in the sale of jingle bells, Olaf decided against purchasing the full raft of Christmas bonus mistletoe. He purchased just half.

He hid the rest of his profit in a nearby glacier. Money he later gambled away on reindeer races. But the point is, that year, he didn't have enough mistletoe for everyone. Naturally, when he announced this after the hot wine toasts, and before the stomp-dancing, the staff were outraged.

To quell the outcry of disappointment from his staff, (which he probably could have anticipated) Olaf quickly devised a plan. He would make it into a competition - yes, that would be fun! Everyone begrudgingly agreed.

He split his employees into two teams. Then, he made them smash their faces together under the sprig of mistletoe clutched in his outstretched hand. He then awarded the mistletoe to whomever was left standing. And so on. Until all the employees had smashed their faces together.

Despite the bloody noses and chipped teeth (or perhaps because of them) everyone had so much fun they forgot about the mistletoe shortage.

From that Christmas on, the tradition of smashing faces under the mistletoe spread rapidly. It traveled south, through Scandanavia, before hitting Germany and spreading east and west. From there, it traveled far and wide.

Of course, over the years and through the many miles, the exuberant face-smashing-to-win-mistletoe tradition has been watered down to a kiss - somewhere between a gentle peck and a deep smooch.

And nobody gets the mistletoe.

Other Christmas History Posts:

Wrapping Paper
Lumps of Coal


10 December 2009

Day 10 of 100

This morning it was 10 sit-ups and 10 push ups on my way to making myself a better person. So far, no sweat.

But I now understand that I am looking down the barrel of a very trying 100 days.

I guesstimate I probably could have done 15 push-ups and 10 sit-ups without too much trouble before I started this. So this next week will be when it will start getting tough. The second tenth won't be the hardest, but it may well be the steepest. So I'm trying to get myself psyched.

I'm trying to get at my 'ups first thing in the am. With only a couple mis-steps, I've been successful. I think starting off the day with some concentrated strength-building is a great way to segueway from bed to caffeinated beverage.

Two days of note:

Day One Chiara took a couple photos. In the posing I did a few extra 'ups. Which is fine. Start off extra keen.

Day Seven
I did eight push-ups instead of seven, because I got confused. This relates to my general lack of focus, compounded by morning sleepiness. This made me realize something I hadn't considered: my short attention span will be another obstacle to overcome during these next 90 days. This battle, as Yogi Berra says, will be 90 per cent physical, the other half mental.

In fact, as an experiment just now. I decided I'd try counting to 100, just to see how it went.

I didn't get past one before quitting. I did get to one a couple of times though, but still: I don't have the concentration for these long-term tasks. Yet.

So it's not just the 'ups, it's the morning counting that will get longer every day, and try my attention span, as I build willpower and strength. This could turn out to be the big benefit to this regime.

I'll keep you posted.


08 December 2009

Hood Mixtape vol. 4

If you like your musics mashed up, do yourself a musical favour, and download the Hood Mixtape volume four. Then get your party started.

And yes, if you were wondering, Lil Wayne and Royskopp do sound great together.


06 December 2009

Roma, Make it Derby Tonight


It's on. Tonight. The real deal. The Roman Derby. Sure, the World Cup will be exciting and all that, but for today it's all about the Derby della Capitale. Just to get a sense of the history, here's the article I wrote before last spring's forgettable shitshow.

It's time to turn the page.

Roma is climbing the table after a forgettable start to their season. Vucinic is back in form and pumping in goals. The heart and soul of the team is Totti, and if he scores tonight, he will climb level with former Lazio striker Beppe Signori's 188 Serie A goals. How much would he love to score against them? Afuckingtonne. Betcha he will too.

As for Lazio? They suck. But, this is the derby and anything can happen. Let's hope that anything is a convincing romp for AS Roma, but expect a game full of literal blood, sweat, and tears.

Here's the preview.

Watch the video below to get yourself in the mood. And then watch the derby and yell and swear and cheer and drink. That's what I'll be doing.

(Via The Offside, where you should be checking Chris's Roma blog).

Daje ragazzi! Forza Roma!

UPDATE: Awesome! Roma won!! 1-0. Woooo! Inconsistent defender Cassetti came on as a substitution beforehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif the end of the first half, and I actually wondered if he might score (no kidding!) and he did!! And we partied. Of course, he also made a defensive error or two, but he actually looked pretty sharp. And he scored, and we won.

But while watching the game I remembered that the quality of football the derby produces is actually pretty low. A lot of ferocious emotion and hard tackles, and not so much 'beautiful game'. But that's the beauty of derby. It's not in the football, it's in the atmosphere.

Grande Roma!


02 December 2009

Pushing My Way Up to Self-Improvement


Yesterday I did a push up (if you're in the UK you might know that as a press-up). I also did a sit-up. Today I did two of each. For the next hundred days, I will do one sit up and one push up for every day.

That means tomorrow it's three of each. And so on to one hundred.

This is because I have joined the Hundred Days to Make me a Better Person project.

There are currently 649 pledges who have all taken the opportunity to do one thing, once each day for the next hundred days. Think of it as a collaborative self-improvement real-world art project. Language learning, being nicer, and writing and drawing things all feature prominently.

You can see the full list of participants at the Hundred Days website. You can also follow the ongoing conversation on Twitter.

Here I'll be posting regular updates on my 'ups. It is hoped that they will lead to more discipline, focused creativity and of course, washboard abs and huge fucking biceps.

Just in time for beach season, which begins on Day 100 (March 10).