30 Days of Kiki : day 7

day 7- a picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you

There are a few major influences I’d like to have mentioned – like Bill Hicks, Robert Heinlein, Alfonso Cuaron, Gandhi – but I can’t go into them all so I’ll just concentrate on two for the moment; one a someone, and one a something.

day 21 - peace

With Buddha I’m going to have to include Gandhi, as he came first in my life, and in terms of pure physical practicality he has been the most influential. (NB: If you haven’t seen Richard Attenborough’s fabulous biopic of Gandhi go see it now! It’s an absolute must see.)

Both men talked about understanding the truth about humanity, about knowing what it is to be alive. I cannot pretend I’ve even begun to get to grips with some of the concepts they have presented to me, but I have already been influenced by them in many, many ways.

It was Gandhi who helped me give up smoking, something I mentioned in Day 1, and it was the Buddha, through the Dalai Lama as portrayed in Seven Years In Tibet, who made me realise I had to become vegan.

beginning buddhism

Their knowledge and understanding is a living thing, and to experience it is to allow it in. Read the books, see the movie (at the very least they’re interesting in and of themselves) and if you don’t learn anything maybe it’s because you knew it already. 🙂

biomes

My ‘something’ is this, the geodesic dome. Propounded by the great comprehensivist Buckminster Fuller, geodesic domes are one of the strongest and most versatile ways to enclose a large space (without internal support!).

They get exponentially stronger and lighter the larger they get – for example, the domes pictured above at the Eden Project are in more danger of blowing away than they are of falling down – and when tested by the American military to see if they could withstand the high winds and extreme conditions of the Arctic, by attempting to pull them down from the inside, the testing equipment broke before the domes did.

But the most amazing concept for me is this: If you built a dome one quarter of a mile across that was a complete sphere, made out of the most light-weight materials, and you were able to seal it efficiently, the buoyancy provided by the warm air that would accumulate inside (it being a big giant greenhouse after all) would be enough to make it float! Imagine, it’s entirely possible that some time in the future we could be living in floating cities, circumnavigating the globe, true citizens of the world. Wouldn’t that be wild! 😉

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Week 27: In which our hero really loses track of time

I had this really cool start to this entry all worked out. It went like this:

52 x 7 = 364.
Half of 52 is 26.
Week 26 = Half of 2010.

Then I was going to do a summation of where I was at the half way point of 2010. Only thing is, half way was last week! I totally missed it!!!

As I said then, I’m having a bit of trouble keeping track of time at the moment, but losing an entire week! Man, that’s bad.

Still, no reason I can’t do the summation now. A week late, but still relevant. So, done one or two new things so far this year – had a go in a floatation tank, saw my first musical as well as a few other shows, got into tiltshifting, I gave up booze, did a few other experiments in going without, was featured in Ask A Vegan, had lots of fun with new tunes, and won the lotto – but not an amazing amount considering how much time I’ve had.

Still, it’s all good practice, and you can’t moon over what has gone before. Onwards and upwards my valiant friends. Hence forth, I shall re-double my efforts to do new things. I shall do more cooking (34 recipes produced so far), I shall do more writing (some progress made on a number of ideas but not enough really), and I shall endeavour to remember why I started this thing in the first place (a house, a family, an interesting job, and a dog).

So, the plan is, one proper new thing a week, at least one new recipe each week, a movie recommendation each week, and hopefully some writing or something each week. Could be a bit of a tall order, but if I plan it properly I reckon I can do it. I’ve had my ‘holiday’ as it were, these last few weeks doing not much but reading and lazing about, so now it’s time to go to work.

Me and the Floatation Tank

It’s been a good week for new things this week. First of all, I’m in a new year. Turned 36 on Monday and I am glad of it finally. Think I was getting a bit stressed out about it the other week, trying to reconcile what I’ve done, with what I want, with what everyone else is doing, y’know? A losing battle of course, “for there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself” (Desiderata, Max Ehrmann), but one we keep on fighting anyway don’t we.

Going to be starting a new year on Sunday too; the Chinese year of the Tiger, which is my year. It’s always good when it’s your year. It means good things are meant to happen. Fingers crossed eh.

Also, going to see a West End show tonight, my first ever after 11 1/2 years in London. Can you believe it? I’ll be reporting on that on Sunday, but first… the floatation tank!

Got to admit, this wasn’t what I was expecting. For some reason I had visualised some kind of pod you lie in (a bit like a sun bed) with goggles and ear plugs and that. Instead I was show to my own individual room with a shower and floatation tank. The guy informed me of the basics – strip off (naked), get a quick shower, dry your face, hop in the tank and shut the door – then left me to it. Once you’re laid down and floating in the rather thick, salty water, you turn off the light and just… float. After about 15 minutes the music fades out and you’re on your own til the end of the session.

Ok, a few weird things. First, I couldn’t decide where to put my arms. They recommended down by your side, above your head, or on your chest. But all three made my shoulders feel weird, like they were up around my ears or something. And there was a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders too, which they had warned me about as that’s where you carry most of your stress and tension, so they were very hard to relax.

When I finally did manage it though there were two things that I found distracting. One was muscle twitches, my arms and legs taking turns to spasm now and then, no doubt as the muscles each individually relaxed completely; and the drifting about inside the tank that I did, sometimes bouncing from wall to wall to wall. Both were exasperated by the thick, viscous liquid, which exaggerated the tiniest movement so that pushing off gently from one end of the tank could easily send you all the way to the other.

That being said, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience. As someone who has done different types of meditation before it was interesting to compare and contrast. Floatation seems to offer you the experience of a contemplative state from the outside in, as opposed to the inside out as with other disciplines, so will no doubt be of great value to a number of people. Personally though I don’t think I’ll be going there an awful lot. At £30 a time (off peak) it’s a bit much for me to do on a regular basis. I get as much mental relaxation from Tai Chi or a bit of sitting meditation. But I will go back at some point, as it was a nice thing to do and the people there were really lovely. I got as much spiritually out of sitting chatting over a cup of tea afterwards as I did the float itself.

For those who are interested, here’s where to find them: www.floatopia.co.uk

More in a few days, including a recipe for hash browns, and my theatre review of Legally Blonde. TTFN.

You’ve got to amuse yourself…

Today was a bit dry. Had a few hours in the morning to do some shopping, post a Christmas card to my brother, and pick up some shirts from the cleaners and then I had to go to work. Was nearly midnight before I got back. Doesn’t leave me much time to change my life. So, just for laughs, I did this.

Click on the pic if you want to know How To Float a Pin.

Like I say, you’ve got amuse yourself somehow. I still did some Chi Kung today, and I haven’t had a drink yet this week, so the experiment’s still on track so far. Off up to Carlisle tomorrow for an early family Christmas, so I’ll have to find my ‘something new’ to do up there. It’s going to be difficult. I was up there in August for my twin brother’s wedding, and just to amuse myself then I went to the Turkish Baths (an experience which set my ‘gaydar’ off something rotten), got shaved by another man (not at the same time I hasten to add!), travelled the Settle line, and went to Go Ape (which is all zip lines and cargo nets), so what else I can do is up there I don’t know. Guess I’ll find out.