Acts of kindness, Crime, Dance, Dating, internet, Religion, strangers, Uncategorized

…shoplifted/Hare Krishna/Freemasions/Ninja Skills…

Week 9

Day Fifty-Eight

…signed up to a dating website

I’ve always thought internet dating was full of weirdos and perverts – so I gave it a try.

Match.com allows you to upload 6 profile photos, unfortunately I don’t have any of me working out or saving several orphans from a burning building, just lots of drunk photos, which is unlikely to entice the ladies.

If you wish to date me (I’m not paying for the whole meal) you’ll find me under the name neilfoster81 here: http://www.match.com

Day Fifty-nine

…committed to seeing something through to the end

It was New Year’s Eve.  I contemplated the ten months left of this challenge and came very close to quitting.  One of my Friends said “why don’t you just give in, that’s what you always do”.

Like most modern men, I have commitment issues – it’s not my fault, I blame the generation I was born into.  On New Year’s Eve 2014 I made a commitment to my friends to see this through to the end and not give up on it, something I’ve never really done before.

I’m excited about the year ahead.

Day Sixty

Day 60…shoplifted

I’ve never shoplifted, apart from when I unintentionally stole Pick ‘n’ Mix as a child, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s a lot harder than it probably used to be as every shop has cameras, so I had to wait until the shopkeeper turned his back.  I bought a bottle of water, whilst at the same time sneaking a Mars into my pocket – proper rebel.

Afterwards I felt completely guilty, so I’ve returned the pilfered confectionary item in post with a note apologising for my misdemeanour; I’m not quite a career criminal yet.

Day Sixty-one

…listened to a meditation tape

To get the New Year off to a good start, I received a speeding ticket from the police.  I now have three points on my driving license, which I’ve never had before.  I was always told as kid that points mean prizes, so I’m quite pleased.  In the eyes of the law I’m now three points closer to being a Bad Ass.

To help me relax after this unfortunate news I tried listening to a meditation tape, it didn’t work.  It was basically just the sound of nature with a softly spoken woman saying “you’re in your secret place”.

Each time I tried to relax a really loud woodpecker kept making me jump, making my secret place quite stressful – I won’t be going back.

Day Sixty-Two

Day 62…visited the Freemasons Grand Lodge

I don’t know much about the Freemasons, apart from that it’s a very secretive organisation – which is why I don’t know much about it.

I discovered there’s a small museum in the United Grand Lodge, their HQ in Holborn.  You can visit the museum if you ask at the reception desk, but you have to sign in and they watch you closely.

The plethora of Freemason artefacts on display still didn’t really explain what they’re all about.  The whole time I kept thinking, if this was a movie I’d accidentally uncover a secret, my apartment would be bugged and men with guns would start following me.

I was given a tour of the Grand Temple.  It was impressive, but I was still no closer to the truth.  However, to my surprise, the tour guide suggested perhaps I’d consider becoming a member; he asked nobody else in the group.  He took my details and said he’d pass them on when I’m ready – if you don’t hear from for a while, then I’m being bugged and the armed men are coming.

Day Sixty-three

…folded a t-shirt in 2 seconds like a Ninja

Day Sixty-four

1528552_781065705241364_1171771393_n…chanted at the Hare Krishna Temple

I was informed the Hare Krishna’s (or “a bunch fruit-loops” as my Nan once called them) have a service/get together on Sunday that’s good for newcomers, so I went along.  I was expecting someone to greet me and explain the basics, but nobody did, so I sat on the floor in their small temple, just off Oxford Street, and tried to copy everyone else.  I felt like a bit of a prat, but I don’t think anyone cared as they were more concerned with Krishna.

At one point, after lots of chanting, a large curtain was drawn to reveal some deities.  Everyone stood, banged cymbals and danced; I must admit I got into a bit, despite having no idea what was going on.  At the end, three hours later, they asked who was new and why they were here.  I put up my hand and explained about my yearlong challenge and they all spontaneously clapped, which I felt was a very gracious, but I guess that’s what they’re all about.

On my side quest, to understand religion, I’m starting to realise gathering as a group to be selfless and share some common principles may be a very beneficial practice, but I’m still not convinced there’s a God yet.  The Hare Krishnas were very lovely people; they gave me a free Indian meal, making them one up on the Christians who just offered me coffee and cake.

HARE KRSNA, HARE KRSNA, KRSNA, KRSNA, HARE HARE

HARA RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE

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internet, money

…gambled online

Day 47Day Forty-seven

When I was young my dad took me to a greyhound dog racing evening, or as it’s more affectionately known amongst cockneys and mockneys, The Dogs.  I remember betting a pound ‘to win’ on what I thought would be a guaranteed spindly canine speeding champ – well actually my dad placed the bet as I was too young to gamble (it was probably his pound), but I certainly felt the sense of risk.  Greyhound racing, as a sport, is arguably fairly basic, the dog only has to complete a single lap.  My chosen dog and perhaps the only one in greyhound sporting history managed just half a lap.  He was not the speeding champ I hoped for, more a distracted dope, as halfway around the course he decided to wander off into the paddocks, or whatever they call the backstage area for sporting hounds.  Bizarrely, in the same race, the dog my dad had bet on managed the extreme opposite of mine and refused to stop running, the stewards had to chase it around the course several times after the race had long finished.  We both lost our pounds and from that point on I realised my family was not gifted with gamblers’ luck.

I’d never tried an online casino before and being a horrendous gambler, I was a little nervous.  I choose http://www.888.com because as far as I knew it was the most reliable and successful, based purely on how many of their posters I’ve seen around London.  First of all I was instructed to download some software on to my computer, which made me more nervous, then I had to register to play.  They asked for a username, however I kept receiving an error message informing me that my username was already taken, so after trying every combination of my name and date of birth I just hit some random keys and settled for ‘Neilfsfsf1981’.

I deposited £20 into my new casin0 account.  Now, I appreciate that £20 is literarily a speck of dust in the world of gambling, but I really am quite broke and also had no idea what I was doing.  As a welcome bonus from the casino my deposit was instantly doubled, so I had £40 to whack on the digital tables – great.

I clicked on the Roulette tab and was greeted by a video feed to a live croupier, which I was a little surprised by I was expecting the entire experience to be computerized.  A game was already in progress. The croupier, whilst spinning the wheel, was talking into the webcam about the design of a suit he was getting fitted for his daughter’s christening, which I thought a little odd.  If my hard earned £20 is on the line then I want some kind of focus from the staff.

The croupier announced the names of the winners each time the spinning ball landed on their corresponding number or colour.  I felt a little guilty whenever he tried to pronounce Neilfsfsf1981 and wished I’d tried harder to find a suitable username, at the same time the childish part of me wanted me to back and change my name to bigschlong1.

After placing bets on random numbers, which seems the only way to approach Roulette as there really can’t be any skill to it, I got up to £80 in the bank.  I decided this was a suitable win to walk away with and clicked for a withdrawal, of course it wasn’t that simple.  The computer told me I was only allowed to withdraw £20 (the original amount I transferred) because I’d been playing with the bonus money they’d given me.  It seemed, and I maybe wrong, in order to withdrawal my winnings of £60 I had to add thirty times the amount of their bonus into my account, which is £600.  I decided to lose my winners and just get my £20 back.  I walked away neither a winner nor loser, just happy I’d probably never experience online gambling again.

In conclusion, as my Nan always said to me about gambling, it’s a mug’s game.

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internet, Uncategorized

…’Liked’ everyone’s status update on my Facebook newsfeed

Day 26Day Twenty-six

I wish I wasn’t addicted to Facebook, in fact I lie to myself that I even have an obsession with Facebook; although I guess denial is the first tell-tale sign of a true addict.  There are many times, when I really should be doing something with my life, that I’ll be scrolling through my smartphone’s constant newsfeed thinking to myself ‘I’m glad I don’t have an addiction to this otherwise I’d never get anything done’.

I have noticed recently, posts on my newsfeed are less of photos showing people ‘wasted’ with traffic cones on their heads and their bits hanging out, and more images of sunrises accompanied with motivational messages about seizing the day or being happy with who you are.  The fact that many of my Facebook ‘friends’ post these types of messages may possibly be because they’re in, or quickly approaching, their thirties and are having some kind of mid-midlife crisis (which apparently now is a thing).  I am aware of the irony of me pointing this out considering I’m undertaking a year of doing things I’ve never done before, but honestly I’m not having a crisis.

HELP I THINK I’M HAVING A CRISIS!

I tend not to ‘Like’ many things on Facebook, but always get a pathetic sense of gratification when someone ‘Likes’ something I’ve done; I guess that’s just human nature.  I wondered what would happen if I ‘Liked’ everything for an entire day.  I imagined not much would happen but the task was surprisingly daunting.

As I slowly worked my way through the newsfeed, blindly pressing ‘Like’, I feared I’d become that weird person you haven’t spoken to for ten years who for no reason ‘Likes’ a photo of you eating lunch.  It was just a click of a button on my phone, but each click meant someone somewhere received a notification to say ‘Neil Foster approves of what you’re doing’ and for that one second the person would judge me about my approval.

I made foolish mistake of telling my friend Dan about the day’s task I’d set myself and, obviously, he started posting things online that I was obliged to endorse:

“Neil is a Dick” – Like (two other people also liked this)

“Like this if you’re not Neil” – Like (very frustrating)

By the end of the day I’d approved of a lot of things, and was slightly disappointed I didn’t get one word of thanks back.

In conclusion: turn off Facebook and go like the real things life has to offer (after you’ve ‘Liked’ my link to this blog)

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internet, Uncategorized

…Played Chat Room Roulette

Day 9Day Nine

I received a letter yesterday from The Circle, the UK’s most trusted psychic reading service (their words, not mine) informing me I’m now a member of their club, it was at that point I realised I maybe signed up to quite a few organisations by the end of the year.  I’m probably going to have to review the junk settings on my email account.

I used to be good with computers. The first computer that my Dad gave me on my eighth birthday, certainly the highlight of the birthday, was an Amstrad CPC 64.  Computing was much easier back then, all you had to do was insert a game cassette (Dizzy and Paperboy were my favourites) into the tape deck attached to the keyboard, wait ten to twenty minutes for the data to upload, then read a message on the screen stating ‘Error’, turn the computer off and then go out to play – easy.

Computer Technology has changed vastly since I was eight.  Today, thanks to the internet, you can do anything online; problem is they keep changing it so I don’t know how to do it.  I’ve often looked at the text cursor flashing at the start of the Google search bar and thought to myself I can do so many things on this internet, I can go anywhere, do anything, become anyone (all virtual of course) and then realised I’ve absolutely no idea what to search for.

It’s was only the ninth day of my attempt to do a year’s worth of new stuff but already felt I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough – I needed to get out of my comfort zone more.  I wanted to become less awkward meeting new people, so decided to achieve this I’ll have to chat to more strangers.  Unfortunately being as lazy as I am I couldn’t be bothered to leave the house, but luckily I didn’t have to because the internet is full of strangers, billions of them and some stranger than others.

My friend suggested I try Chat Room Roulette, a website that allows you to connect with a stranger at random anywhere in the world using just your computer, webcam and microphone.  All you have to do is click Start and a stranger will appear on your screen staring back at you, ready to chat.  I was nervous.  For some reason I went to the bathroom and shaved my slightly overgrown face, I’m not sure why but I think I didn’t want to look like an internet pervert.  Whilst I was in the bathroom I ended up brushing my teeth as well, I guess you can’t brush your teeth too many times.  On reflection I really didn’t need to worry want I looked like.

So I was ready for my first Chat Room chat.  I sat in front of my webcam and clicked Start, for a short while the screen said ‘finding partner’, and then the first stranger appears and I must admit they took me slightly by surprise.  Initially on the screen I saw what I thought was a very frightened skinny little mouse being petted lovingly by it’s caring owner, until I realised that in fact the mouse WAS the owner.  I turned off the computer immediately and stared blankly at my living room wall for a good five minutes.

I eventually decided to go back on to Chat Room Roulette to give it one last chance, whilst at the same time wishing I’d paid for the renewal of the Antivirus Software that my computer’s alert box bangs on about every day.  Chat Room Roulette seemed like a wonderful idea to me, before I went on it, a chance for all people of all nations to come together (not in the seedy way) and form one single virtual nation where the great and the good could be discussed.  In my opinion, and only based on that day’s experience, internet chat rooms seem like lonely places rather than friendly places.  After forty minutes I had spoken to no one and had seen a lot of brief but sad live video images of half-naked tired and desperate looking men.  At one point a women appeared on my screen, she looked at me, rolled her eyes and then disappeared.  It occurred to me that my image may have also appeared to everyone else like a tired and desperate (but not half-naked) looking man.  Not ever wanting to be that person I simply turned my computer off and thought wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just go out to play.

I think we humans seem to go out of our way to ruin our greatest innovations, meaning sadly internet webcam chat rooms weren’t going to help me converse with strangers.  If I wanted to talk to strangers I was going to have to stop my laziness and leave the house.  The next day’s new thing began to form in my head…

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