Thursday, 10 March 2011

Not giving a fuck

I was thinking how the meaning of this phrase (popularly known as DGAF - 'Don't give a fuck' in California and some states as I found out when I visited) can actually dramatically change your life if you apply it as a permanent feature of your mindset.

I grew up as a pretty shy child, I used to have a lisp (lissssssssssssp) and it put a dent in my confidence until about year 10 (15ish). Fortunately after years of tailoring my sentences so they didn't contain words with the letter "s" and avoiding public reading I taught myself to speak without a lisp (just make sure your tongue is behind your teeth when you talk, really not that fucking hard haha) and eventually begun to change.
Unfortunately, the change in my confidence even after losing my speechial retardation (not a word) wasn't sudden. Only in the last year has it improved quite noticeably, since I employed the DGAF method.

Through some severe Internet lurking on several forums I stumbled across the "meme" of "Not giving a fok" and decided to apply it to everyday life, I was still quite a nervous kid and got on with things but still had the underlying anxiety dwelling in my mind. Quite simply I decided to DGAF and every time the anxiety popped into my head I dismissed it by essentially tricking myself into thinking that regardless of the outcome I didn't care (DGAFfed). Although I knew I was tricking myself I also knew that this attitude led to a more adventurous and exhilarating lifestyle and consequently a better overall quality of life.

Some small scale examples of things that some of you may take for granted but were a big change for me:

- Talking to strangers, even asking for the time used to be scary for me, now I can spark up conversations with almost anyone if I want to.

- Doing new things (travel), a great way for me to see my progression is the fact that a few years ago I was too scared to make the journey to the opposite end of the country to meet some online friends I met through a mutual sport (Not as creepy as it sounds but I will elaborate in a later post.) and... now I love it! I visit as much as money permits me, I've also travelled the states alone via train which is something I literally wouldn't have dreamed of a few years back!

- Doing new things (other), I'm far more open to trying new things! Attending protests and meetings for various subjects (Zietgiest, anti-cuts etc). Trying new hobbies, the DGAF doesn't necessarily have to be applied to confidence alone. I can now take time to research things I'm interested in or... write a blog because I stopped caring about television and forums etc. DGAFing eliminates lathargism!

- Fully expressing my (often controversial) opinions, to the point where it could even offend a person (not saying these are good changes for everyone but personally I love being able to express my opinions in real life as truthfully as you can in the online world). This hasn't always "helped" in certain situations but I've always gone out of them being glad I did it.

- Doing certain... "Frowned upon" activities I wouldn't have dared to do before. Such as train bunking, disregarding laws upon certain mind altering substances, etc. All things that benefit me greatly and wish I had started earlier.

- Not caring what other people think, I find it's the best way to live and gives you way more confidence in social situations if you literally take no concern to anything anyone says*.

*It's important to emphasise that there is a big, big difference to just thinking about this attitude and to literally adopting it. DGAFing can't be overlapping your anxiety it must be REPLACING it.

I'm not saying I've fully eliminated any negative thoughts from my mind and "perfected" the technique, but I definitely have seen the benefits and strive to continue adapting it until I have reached it's full potential. Some days I completely relapse into my old shy state (normally due to being alone or in a bad mood for extended amounts of time) but soon I hope this new mindset will completely take over me!

Anyone with any opinion or experience of similar things please share!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Steam room

Recently I've invested in a Fitness First - 4 month gym membership for around £150.
Unless I'm away I'll visit every single day, not to work out but to use the steam room.
You may be thinking "Mike, why pay to go to one of the most expensive gyms in the country with almost every single piece of equipment a gym would ever need yet only use the steam room???" to which I say "I like steam".
If you divide the £150 over 4 months you'll see I'm only paying about £1.25 a day which... still isn't really worth it for just the steam room and it would make a lot of sense to use some of the other apparatus the gym has to offer and, ya know... actually work out like maybe do what the gym's supposed to be for?
BUT, in a desperate attempt to justify my own laziness I will explain about all the benefits of the steam room in one post full of juicy condensed facts. The irony is that the gym shuts in 50 minutes and instead of going I'm writing a post about going, classic.


That's basically what it's like. However, although it's unisex I've never seen a female inside it.


- Helps respiratory problems, I suffer from asthma and recently I've had quite a bad cough. The steam inside the steam room adds moisture to your lungs, throat and nose which soothes them and makes it easier to breath.

- It flushes out your pours by making you sweat loads! This is the best way to clean your skin, it really helps get rid of acne too!

- Following on from the last point it is a great thing to do for contrast bathing, if you go in the steam room then come out and have a cold shower then it will narrow your blood vessels (steam room relaxes them) which gets rid of any inflammation and also it closes the pores in your skin (steam room opens and cleans them).

- It helps heal damaged muscle tissue, if I'm ever aching then I'll go in the steam room and it will sort me out straight away, a lot of top level athletes swear on it!

- It's a relaxing thing to do, a great place to go and think. Also it makes you come out so refreshed! It's a great thing to do at the start of the day but at the same time it can be good to do just before sleep too!


- If someone opens or closes the door on the steam room it will make loads of tiny droplets of steaming hot water drop from the ceiling, it stings.

- If you stay in for too long you will probably shrivel up and die, or something.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Insane on the train

This is a pretty random post detailing an encounter I had last summer on the Amtrak train journey from Penn station, New York to Miami station (FL).
After travelling through many of the states and spending days aboard different trains I thought Amtrak was a pretty boring means of transport, no one I'd met on board had been interesting or even really talked much. I had heard the East coast was more lively but I thought that was just a pretty biased generalisation, turns out I was wrong!

Just after boarding a "weathered" looking man in his 50s came down and sat next to me, straight away he said 'Hello' and offered me a beer (It's illegal for under 21s to drink in the states and I was 18 at the time, I took it anyway because I was from England where it's legal to drink at 18 so I figured I could always use that as an excuse if I got caught.).
We got talking and just about straight away he told me his life story, he was a builder in New York and was involved in the cleaning up process of the Twin Towers (post 9/11), he said whilst working there due to the dust he developed some lung problems, he was prescribed some painkillers that he consequently overdosed on and fell into a 3 month coma. He told me how he had "seen things" through the coma and was adamant that God exists and that Heaven is waiting for him.

He followed on to say he was waiting on a cheque from the government to compensate for his ill-health. Whilst telling me about his fragile relationship with his wife and the difficulties he faces trying to see his son I transferred all his contacts from his old to his new phone (as he asked me to do), as a thanks for my nifty handywork he gave me $40 and then later that night bought me a steak dinner in the trains dining cart (it's actually pretty good quality).

It sounds like he was grooming me, which he probably was but as long as I got some free steak I didn't care.
He continued to drink through dinner and started buying me some drinks (we had established earlier in the night that I couldn't get served at the bar so he was getting everything for me, another win/win or potentially win/loseandgetraped situation for me.). A couple sat down and the man stopped talking about how he could use a salt shaker as a weapon and bragging about how versatile his weapon-mind was and started more civilised chat. He insisted on paying for everyone's meal on the table even though the cheque soured above $100, it didn't look like he was in a position to be throwing around cash like he was but I didn't say anything... how immoral of me.

Later in the night he started buying bottles upon bottles of spirits and giving me some, I got pretty drunk and as did he, he told me stories about how he jumped off a bridge and broke his nose in the shallow water and showed me pictures of his naked girlfriends. Throughout the rest of the night he gave me $40 more dollars, cologne and some high strength pain killers that "would make me feel good" (I just flushed them, unfortunately for him the next morning when he asked for them back), eventually he went to the bar leaving me alone in my seat and he continued to party the night away while I went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up in my little bed behind the bins at the end of a carriage (more space to lie down), I returned to my seat where he was reading a book of daily quotes and bible passages that apparently gets him through the day, he bought me breakfast and then shortly left without saying goodbye.

This little experience has made me think a lot about it since, not just about the sheer bizarreness of the train ride but more about the man himself, although his alcoholism and prescription painkiller addiction had clearly made him at least slightly insane he was one of the most interesting and eccentric men I've ever met, I can't clearly depict what he was like in a blog and you'd have to meet him for yourself to see what I mean. But what makes me think is just what it would be like to live a day in his shoes, he gets on a casual train journey and makes the train his own, by the end of the night he was recognised by every passenger (to say he was popular with them would be a bit of a lie) but regardless the experiences he must have living the lifestyle he does with the mindset he has must be mind blowing for a normal person to think about.

Perhaps I've just not met a big enough variety of people, I don't know. For me though I regard this as a story definitley worth retelling. If any of you have met anyone similar then please share your stories too!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Sleeping on the floor

I've always been told through family and general elders that ditching your bed and sleeping on the floor does wonders for your back, recently I've needed some money to save up for going to California in April so decided I may as well just sell my bed, my back aches a bit anyway. It's a win/win situation... right?
A sorta side reason for doing this was that I've always loved the idea of a vagabond lifestyle, living freely and having no commitments, I've experienced what it's like sleeping rough whilst I travelled the states and it wasn't pleasant - hopefully this will train my body into being able to cope with it so I'm better prepared for my next adventure.

My first night was the hardest, and by hardest I mean difficult in comparison to the following nights but relatively easy as far as sleeping goes. It wasn't really a big deal.
To be fair I'm not completely on the floor I have a yoga mat, a wool blanket and a normal blanket underneath me for insulation more than comfort. I have two pillows, a normal feather one and a memory foam one, it's important to make sure your neck isn't being held up at an unnatural angle as you sleep and I found this combination of the two pillows is ideal for a perfect positioning of my body.

Now, a couple of weeks in I don't think twice about sleeping on this setup. I have an adequate amount of comfort so my hips don't dig into the floor or anything. I'm noticing a few plus sides to sleeping on the floor:

- I'm waking up refreshed at an earlier time. I think it's probably due to the unnecessary amount of comfort of my old bed where I could lie in and feel amazing whilst doing so. Now I can still lie in but because it's not as rewarding I feel no need to! I'm utilising the day for it's full potential now (well... I still miss most of the morning but at least it's not as ridiculous as it used to be!).

- My back ache is gone, it was only minor but defiantly noticeable, maybe it's due to me cutting down on sport and physical activities recently so I can't really count this one. But at least I know there is no negative effect on my back from sleeping on the floor!

- I can appreciate other sleeping areas better! For example at friends houses and the like, I will be able to enjoy whatever they give me to sleep on, helps you fall asleep in all different types of environment too!

- I have floorspace, so much room for activities!

- I will make some money selling my bed, it's not as much as I first thought I'd get (only about £20) but at least it's something! (The mattress would sell for more but it's not mine to sell.).

- I don't need to worry about lack of space! I did genuinely have an issue with that on my bed, the cold metal frame was very unforgiving on my feet or head if I wasn't curled up

Well that's about it! Give it a go and see what it's like for yourself! So far for me, no regrets! But there's not really much turning back now I've got rid of my bed, classic planning ahead.

A philosophical question

If you had the choice to be reincarnated as a tree with concious thought and all your current memories would you do it?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Blood donation

I started donating blood about 2 years ago when I turned 17 (minimum age) because my mum told me to, now I continue to do so because I feel the amount of effort it takes me to sit in a room for an hour once every 4 months is pretty much worth it to potentially save a life. Plus you get free snacks after your donation.

Another thing that excited me with blood donation is that after certain amounts of donation your donor level goes up and you get different benefits, by benefits obviously I mean your blood doning card changes colour.

From two days ago I'm on:

Which means I've donated 5 times, massive level up from the amateur, aesthetically unpleasing, 0-5 donation red card:


Obviously I have a long way to go, well 29 years and 3 months to be exact before I reach...


I know what you're thinking, it's purple. Still worth it. In about 30 years and 83 pints of blood's time I will have finally achieved winning status and will be able to rest happily knowing I have leveled up to the max.

For all the in between cards and "rewards" see:


Recently in my bland and uninteresting life I've befriended some vegans, after questioning them about it and hearing their fully unbiased accounts of how amazing veganism is I decided to give it a go, nothing to lose and potentially lots to gain!

If you didn't already know, veganism is the practice of rejecting the use of any animal related product from their lifestyle, dietary veganism which I am referring to in this post is removing any animal related product from my diet. e.g. no meat, no eggs, NO HONEY, etc.

As a 6'2, 14 stone athletic man I eat a fair amount, I pillage the kitchen throughout the day until supplies are low then I hunt the local domestic animals until my hunger is satisfied. Well... slight exaggeration but I do eat a lot.
The main problems I saw with turning vegan was that:
a) I could hardly eat anything,
b) there would be no variety in what I ate!

What I quite quickly found was if you look hard enough you can replace a lot of the things you eat on a normal diet with 'vegan friendly' foods, there's Tofu and Quorn that replace meat which is basically all you need to put with your vegetables and rice (whatever) for a balanced diet.
Although I used to hate dark chocolate because I was used to the sweeter confectionery choices such as Mars bars, Milky way bars etc now dark chocolate has become a luxury!
Fruit and vegetables are still obviously allowed, most of my meals consist of couscous (I'd recommend Quinoa over couscous as it has basically more protein), hummus and various vegetables/spices. Pitta bread is pretty good for lunches but there are far better meals you can cook if you have the time, for example I had spaghetti bolognese (soya beans that taste like yet, are not mince) for dinner tonight and yesterday I had a roast with quorn sausages.

The pros I've found so far even though I've only been vegan for a short time are noticeable fat loss - people were saying my cheekbones were more defined after just a week and I have lost a significant amount of body fat and become more 'toned'.

The cons thus far are just really I miss fried chicken and bingeing on random foods, not enough to give up completely but just enough to shed a tear every time I walk past KFC.

To make it clear, I have no ethical issues with slaughtering animals for consumption, obviously I am pro organic livestock farming etc but don't feel strongly either way, I'd be more interested to find out if animals actually have a concious thought as we do or not before I make a judgement on whether or not we should be cooking 'em.