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World Records and Me

April 6, 2014

Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated with record setting facts. Back in the day my parents would satisfy my curiously with old thrift shop copies of the famous Guinness Book of Records. It didn’t matter that some of the copies dated to before I was born, as long as the pictures were unique (not always the case, as I recall Robert Wadlow the world’s tallest ever man at 8 foot 11 inches, would always be featured in the human body section with some random fellow dwarfed under this living giant) I was always happy to flick through the pages in awe.

Robert Wadlow world tallest man

 

My thoughts were if Guinness had their book why can’t I? The brilliant idea came to me shortly after perusing countless pages of humans taking themselves to the limit. I managed to get a hold of a small exercise book and began a records book featuring my very own personal human achievements; it would include things like jumping the furthest from a single point in our living room, most push-ups or how long I can hold my breath. One record I remember reading about was of a man in India standing on one foot for something like 72 hours. I thought to myself now there’s a maverick when it comes to record breaking. I told myself that I must set my own one foot record, otherwise one day I will go to my grave with deep regret not knowing how long I could really stand there balancing on a single foot. From memory I got bored and my foot starting aching after a measly half an hour. After hobbling to the pages of my record diary I scribbled the new record name and personal best time and in my head was satisfied that I have ticked off another record of my young minds bucket list.

These days I don’t jump around my lounge any more setting records (after all I might knock over Levi), but I have still kept my fascination with things that are the biggest, fastest, hairiest etc. My yearly ritual whenever I am in Kmart’s book section and I see the newly printed copy of the Guinness Records is to flick through the pages and check-out the newest pictures and interesting additions to the list.

Tallest building

A record category I find really interesting to read up on is the world tallest buildings/structures. Wikipedia has a great article on this.

The current world record holder for the tallest building is Burj Khalifa in United Arab Emirates at 829.8 meters in height. It surpasses the second place holder (as at the time of writing this) Tokyo Sky Tree at 634 meters, by nearly 200 meters. It is an amazing structure and feat of human engineering. I would love to stand on top of it and gaze out.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

But I always enjoy looking over the horizon and seeing what if anything is going to top that in the near future. The Kingdom Tower that appears to be underway is set to be over one kilometre in height. Yep that’s over 1000 meters into the air.

(Still Under construction) Kingdom Tower, Jeddah

(Still Under construction) Kingdom Tower, Jeddah

I am not even going to talk about the theoretical proposals such as the space elevator.

One last thing that blew my mind when I was reading the article. There is a section on how long various previous record holders help the record as the tallest structure. An example is the Eiffel tower (300 meters) that held the record for 41 years from 1889 till 1930 when it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building (319 meters).

Do you know who held the record for the longest time? Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt (146 meters) held the record as the tallest human structure for a whopping 3871 years from 2560 BC till 1311 when it was finally surpassed by Lincoln Cathedral in England (160 meters).

Great pyramid of Giza

Great pyramid of Giza

Update on my life – Mar 2014

March 9, 2014

 

The above picture sums up the first two stages of my life quiet accurately. At some point I have exchanged my youthful carefree living, you know the type I am referring to; you wake up, look at the 9 am flashing on your clock and roll over back to sleep to recover from last night’s wild debauchery (joking, most nights were spent in my dark bedroom crushing virtual enemy armies in the second instalment of the popular franchise Age of Empires). Anyway as I was saying what happens when you have a full time job + 2 hours of daily travel and a one year old that puts energizer bunnies to shame? Sure you have some more money in the ‘hopes & dreams’ piggy bank, but It leaves you with just enough time at breakfast to strap a feeding-bag to your face and rush off to work.

Time to double-down I say. Instead of trying to cut some things out of your life like an average mortal would do if they had any sense,  I decided to plunge head first into the frozen lake of stuff to fill your life with. I have started my studied Again! You would think 6.5 years of uni would bring even the most hardcore academic to their knees, begging to be let-out from the campus walls, but It seems I have that itch again.

I started my CPA course which thankfully does not require lectures and tutorial. But it does mean that I have to now think about whether that extra bathroom break is me spoiling myself with some leisure time or is it better that I stick to reading another lengthy definition of deferred tax exemptions instead. In other words I really have to plan my days and try to fit in as much as possible, no time for wasteful blog posts… ooops. Let’s see how that goes for me.

As late night infomercials will tell you in a +5 volume “but wait there’s more!” Just yesterday our friends and Charmaine & I inspected a unique property that consists of two duplexes on one title. After a cuppa we decided to give the property market another go and try to acquiring this little gem in the heart of Blacktown with four names on the property. Only problem? The auction (I hate auctions as it is) is one week from today. Talk about cutting it short. We did see our broker today, so hopefully we can work something out by next Saturday. But who knows all this might mean that I need to find time for moving and cosmetic renovations. Let us see.

Favourite Youtube Channels – Veritasium

March 1, 2014

I haven’t done this segment in a while. I thought I’d share another favourite of mine when it comes to Youtube channels. I first learnt about the channel by link hopping from another Youtube source previously blogged about - Vsauce.

As the heading of the post suggests the channel title is a rather obscure word that when I first came across sounded a lot like one of the periodic elements. I later read from their Wikipedia page that the name is partly inspired from the elements, it is a “combination of the Latin word for truth, ‘Veritas’, and the ending common to many elements ‘ium”.

The videos are very sciency (I will use this word even if my spell checker will have a hissy fit over it) and tend to gravitate towards the subject of physics, nevertheless the host (Brian Schmidt ) makes each release very engaging and leaves your mind with something to ruminate on. In some videos Schmidt gets access to some rather restrictive areas of scientific research such as the below video shows ‘World’s Roundest Object! Or there is the Most silent room in the world.

In some videos Brian goes into the streets and asks random people,  what appear to be relatively simple science question, as an example below the public is asked to compare the surface temperature of two objects and then comment on their temperate differences. A very interesting response and explanation of temperature follows from Brian.

Or there are just the random fun videos such as the slow-motion slinky that appears to defy the law of gravity.

The Coast Track, NSW – My Experience

February 23, 2014

If you wish to see the natural beauty of the East Australian coast, and you want to do it by foot I cannot speak more highly of The Coastal Track that runs from Bundeena (one hour drive from Sydney) to Otford.  At 26 kilometres this is a two day hike, but if you are after a single day trek much like the group I went with, you can cut it in half and still enjoy a hot meal back home before the sun set.

Our starting destination was Garie beach inside the Royal National Park. At around 10 am we were finally ready to take the first steps through the long strip of beach until a hikers sign instructed us to proceed through the local greenery. As soon as our feet left the sand, the trail picked up altitude and we slowly gained height. After about ten minutes of this cuff building exercise, you could look back and see a panoramic view of where we set-off from.

The coast track, Garie beach

The coast track, Garie beach

For some time afterwards the track led us through low lying coastally adopted vegetation. The views were lacklustre as even the blue ocean vanished from sight. I was however fascinated to see how many ants inhabit the earth all along the track. At one point we saw a nest of what I later learnt were Red Bull ants with massive mandibles ready to do some serious damage. Perhaps due to their size, one of the biggest species in the world (up to 30mm in length) the ants operate with such a bravado that they can build a nest wherever they feel like, if it happens to be where us humans walk so be it, we have to go around them. One of the guys got bit on the foot as we were crowding around the nest taking photos. I hear it feels like a hot needle being continuously stuck into you eeek.

Red Bull Ant, Royal National Park

At some point the track opened up again to reveal the naked coast. We have ascended even higher by this time and were rewarded with gorgeous expanses of the ocean and terrifying cliffs beside us. I much like others were naturally was drawn to the edge to peer down the relentless waves crashing against the jagged rocks. It was not long when a sense of vertigo overtook me and I had to step back to a safer location.

The Coast Track, Cliffs

The Coast Track, Cliffs

The Coast Track, more cliffs

The Coast Track, more cliffs

The walk to Bandeena, our final destination, was littered with such breathtaking views as I mentioned above, each one different enough to be memorable in its own right. There were about four beaches that we passed on our hike, offering us a place to rest and for some a chance to cool-off in the water. Wattamolla beach was around the mid-point of our hike. It had a small lagoon and a giant rock that brave teenagers were constantly jumping off from. After reenergizing at this pit-stop we continued onwards.

At one point we took a wrong turn and lost over an hour by taking a boring stone filled fire-trail that led inland. After backtracking and getting back on course we finally reached the end point at 15 to 7, a whopping 9 hours later. The track should only taken about 3.5 hours as per google maps, however taking leisurely breaks, getting lost and being part of a group that consists of a wide spectrum of fitness all add up for a long day.

The Coastal Track was definitely worth my time, and I would recommend it to all that will listen. It was a great experience to see the beauty of the Eastern NSW coast. I only had a phone camera, but I have included my favourite shots of the day.

Red Sandstone  - Coast Track NSW

Red Sandstone – Coast Track NSW

Very straight cliff edge - Coast Track

Very straight cliff edge – Coast Track

crevasse leading to the ocean - Coast Track

crevasse leading to the ocean – Coast Track

Coast line - Coast Track

Coast line – Coast Track

Levi’s First Party

January 26, 2014

Levi’s first birthday party went off with a bang. The theme that was chosen –  Mr Men & Little Miss (after asking Charmaine if she has read any of the books it turns out neither of us have, for all we know the series might be some violent erotica disguised as children’s literature). If you are not familiar with the theme it is based on a series of children’s books featuring characters that begin with Mr or Little Miss followed by some one dimensional personal characteristic. Talk about stereotyping… with names such as Mr Messy or Little Miss Ditzy that’s a great way to sap someone’s self-confidence. But I digress.

We chose Mr Happy & Little Miss Sunshine to be the representative characters for the day. Here are some highlights of the day. Party was organised at Blacktown Showground.

Here is Levi ecstatically welcoming a party hat on his head.Levi crying his eyes

 

 

Levi giving a hug, even if it means going on all fours.Levi giving a hug

Just some delicious food. The highlight? Those 75 empanadasdelicious party food

 

Cake timeLevi Alexzander Birthday cake

One year of Fatherhood.

January 26, 2014

Charmaine and I can unanimously say that the last 12 months have come and gone at an amazingly rapid pace. Just a few days ago Levi turned one so yesterday we celebrated it with his very first birthday party.

A question I have heard asked is how I feel as a father after 12 months? It is one of those questions that when asked by someone like an older curious acquaintance produces a kneejerk response of “good”. What else is there to say? I think there a social expectation to wear a mask of confidence and joy when it comes to being a new father/mother, even if the first child has stretched you and your relationship to a breaking point. Having said that I truly feel that the last 12 months have been overall an amazing revolutionary time in my personal life. The journey had its bumps and rough patches, but when you zoom-out the overall picture is worth framing. We have been lucky not to experience to any significant degree the horror stories of babies not sleeping, not eating or falling into serious illness. There was the first month when Levi would scream his lungs out for what appeared to be no reason (we later found out he was lactose intolerant and the milk was hurting him). What was worse is that when I tried to rock him, he would push away from me with his legs into my stomach. I recall being very upset and taking it to heart, that here I was barely functioning with a few hours of sleep, and trying to help you, and yet you scream into my ear and kick my stomach! Of course it is irrational to attribute any malice to a one month old, but when your sleep deprived you are not rational anymore. I mention that little incident because I have a whole new degree of empathy to new parents who have to rough it out with difficult babies.

But all of those horrible incidents gets smoothed out when you have moments such as when your son walk up to you, puts his head on your arm and gives you a hug. Or when you tickle him and you hear the sweetest pure laughter.

I look forward to see Levi grow and develop more in the next 12 months. I attached a poster Charmaine and I made for his birthday that lists some facts about him.

Levi posted one year old

Interesting Data Maps of the world

January 21, 2014

Great read.

40 maps (mostly) of the world showing how different countries compare.

Link to Article

Three of my favourite:

Who Smokes Most: A surprising map of smoking rates by country

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/08/smoking-map-2.jpg

The world’s major writing systems

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/08/WritingSystemsoftheWorld4-1.png

 Legal systems of the world

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/08/Qd2wi.png

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