The rain comes like someone turned on a switch. Water fills the cobbled walkway of Chinatown and splashes up onto the knock-off watches, handbags, and sunglasses in all of the brightly tented stalls. The MSG-filled Pork ball soup fills my stomach with warm comfort as my teeth turn fuzzy. The cold beer contrasts the broth, and the cocktail they create within me begins to make my head lighter upon my shoulders. I grab the small black backpack at my feet and then dance in between the tin roof waterfalls created by each of the small stalls.
The familiar buzz of the needle is the first sound that meets my ears as I walk into the tattoo shop. “We will start in just a minute, okay?” The tattoo artist is a small, yet bulky Chinese guy with his hair back in a ponytail and his arms covered in faded colors that must have held a better shape at one time. Two smoke breaks later the needle finally breaks skin. A silhouette of a scuba diver starts to take shape in the darkness of the black ink. The sharp pain is a familiar one; burning. My mind jumps back to the jellyfish that grazed my neck only a week before as I dove the Kapas reef. Pain doesn’t phase me, pain is temporary, and to me, temporary has always been a kind word.
As I look to my right my eyes catch on the knuckles of a young Indian guy waiting for his next tattoo session. “Thug Life” is written across the knuckles of his fingers. At first I am hesitant to say anything, but my curiosity gets the best of me as it always does, “Thug Life, huh? Pretty tough part of your history.” He looks exactly as confused as I thought he would, “It’s Tupac, man. He is from California.” I decide not to comment on the tense of his sentence’s verb, “No, I mean, ‘thug’ comes from the Thugee gang from India…” no change in the guy’s face, “they killed hundreds of people by strangling them to death.” His face crinkles into a mixture of confusion and disbelief, “Is that true? Let’s Google that.” No one ever believes anything I say about random historical facts. Within minutes the eight fully tattoo’d Malaysians, both Indian and Chinese, are crowded around the small desktop screen watching a documentary about the Thugee gang on Youtube. My tattoo artist frustratedly tries to continue working on my arm, “Guys, just play some music la~. What you want to listen to?” I suggest Johnny Cash, but no one knows who I am talking about. I offer up Pearl Jam, still no response as the Thugee documentary plays through the shop. “Wait, seriously? You guys don’t know Cash or Vedder?” My education of my ink artists and their customers continues.
By the time the final ink is being put into the right flipper of my diver, I have somehow devolved the conversation from Thugee gang to Cash and Vedder, from Cash and Vedder to turtle preservation, from turtle preservation to Halloween in America, and then, of course, finally resting on funny Youtube cat clips. It was at that exact moment that I thought to myself, ‘I am 100% positive that this series of events could not possibly have been strung together by anyone in the world but me.’ I walked back to my hostel with a certain smugness and a can of sour cream Pringles awaiting me.
We have been traveling through Malaysia and Brunei for a couple weeks now, and the fruit is really incredible. I can’t get enough of the food here! There are so many different cultures that bring so many different types of dishes to the table (literally). Right now, we are staying in a small city called Tawau on the east side of Borneo. We are remodeling a hotel, and we are also living as cheaply as possible, but that doesn’t mean we skip on my delicious orange juice:
Have you ever filled up a glass with that sweet orange goodness and thought, “Man, this is great, but it is just missing something…I can’t put my finger on it.” Well, I can tell you what you are missing, you are missing out on “Juicy Sacs.” If you haven’t caught onto these juicy sacs, then you haven’t really lived. I mean, everyone I know here in Malaysia can’t stop talking about how much they love juicy sacs. Personally, I could go through like 50 juicy sacs in a day. Mmmm, juicy….sacs.
Welcome to Malaysia.
As many of you know, Adventures in Redefinition has moved abroad once more. I am now situated in Malaysia. However, thanks to the great efforts of Alec (aka loudignorantamerican) we will still have great student postings and interesting looks into the Korean lifestyle as well. Alright, onto Malaysia stuff:
First off, Malaysia is amazing. The modern mixed with historic and untamed is truly breath-taking. I’m in Kuala Lumpur right now and have seen some of the greats: China Town, Central Market, the Botanical Gardens, Batu Caves, and today I head to Melaka.
As in all societies in the world, there are people who just don’t want to do what you want them to do, Malaysia is no different:
Just for reference, the entire rest of the street was open, he literally could have parked anywhere else and been just fine. Well played, sir.
For this week, lately I’ve been studying a great deal of cognitive neuroscience (at a basic level). Many of my conversations revolve around this topic and I just find how the brain works to be infinitely exciting. I’ve had a couple conversations about Seratonin, Oxytocin, and Caffeine this week with various students and teachers. A ways back when I was writing consistently for online media sources, I wrote an article about Caffeine and the brain for The Skrilla (which unfortunately is no longer going). So, I have decided to put this
old gem decent write-up on the blog. I reference the previous two weeks about “Dopamine” and “Oxytocin,” so make if you read this one and would like the other two, let me know and I will put them online:
Caffeine’s Blitzkrieg and Your Brain:
“Alright, so we have hit Dopamine and Oxytocin over the last two weeks. I decided it’s time to move onto something more relatable to everyone reading: Caffeine. Let me drop a statistic knowledge-bomb on you: 90% of Americans consume caffeine in one way or another. I checked the Census Bureau’s website earlier, and as of today we have 310,400,000 people living in America. That means 279,348,300 of us are jittery (and extra efficient) on a daily basis.
The chemical formula for caffeine is C8H10N4O2 (Which is exactly how I order it from Starbucks, “I’ll take a Venti cup of C8H10N4O2, please). Its medical name is trimethylxanthine, which is a bunch of Latin words strung together that mean “Sleep is for wussies.”
So how does caffeine work? Caffeine is sort of like an evil identical twin brother of a chemical called Adenosine. Adenosine’s job is to find an Adenosine receptor in your brain, link up, and tell the brain, “Hey, I’m getting sleepy, let’s punch out and call it a day.” However, Caffeine, being the evil twin, cuckolds (That’s a 16-point word in Scrabble) the Adenosine receptor since it looks identical to the Adenosine receptor. The Caffeine then tells the brain that it should crank this party up, resulting in even more nerve cell activity.
Still not getting it? You want one more example? Sure! Caffeine basically steps in front of the Adenosine and blocks it from getting to the Adenosine receptors, convincing us that we are less tired than we really are. It looks something like a football chalkboard:
As you can see in this game, the O’s (Adenosine) are trying to blitz the brain, but the X’s (caffeine) have mounted an impenetrable defense that might just take them all the way through the “Work Day Bowl.”
So why not just stay on caffeine all day everyday? When the Pituitary Gland sees this football game of confusion going on between Adenosine and Caffeine it thinks there is an emergency occurring and releases a boat-load of Adrenaline. This is why when you drink too much coffee you shake, your muscles tense up, and you get overly excited. Obviously, tricking your body into a body-wide red-alert is a bad idea for extensive periods of time.
Caffeine does have its benefits through. Drinking Caffeine, such as coffee, on a regular basis reduces your chances of developing Parkinson’s, Cirrhosis, Colon Cancer, and developing gall stones. Oh, and it increases the amount of Dopamine you get, which as I said in the previous article, makes you happy and excited.
So Caffeine does a pretty awesome job of tricking your brain, but it’s important to remember that it’s a temporary illusion. Caffeine wears off after a 6 hour shelf-life. Remember all that Adenosine that was blitzing the brain? Well, imagine the entire defensive line just disappearing and the quarterback (our brain in this case) getting sacked by every member of the opposing team. This is why we crash hard after a Caffeine fix wears off.
I’d personally recommend that everyone has at least one cup of coffee everyday to keep those Dopamine levels up and keep productive, just make sure you don’t yell at your barista for not getting it to you in under 30 seconds because they will decaf you (So many fond memories of my coffee shop…).”
A guy who drinks too much coffee…who also writes a blog,
As you may have noticed, there was an absence in my usual Thursday post. As much as I love writing this blog, I have become increasingly busy here in Korea (Someone is getting popular!). I think it would be slightly absurd for me to prioritize writing about my life in Korea over living my life in Korea. So, in an attempt to maximize my Korean exploration (and to work on some short stories) I’ll be returning to posting once a week on Sundays…at least for now.
As a guy who comes from around the Los Angeles area of California (aka Orange County), I am pretty accustomed to the ridiculous tricks bars use to get business. Ladies nights, where girls drink for less, usually have a pretty strong pull on the fairer sex…and if that doesn’t work they can always make it an 80s night (which is like cat-nip for lady-boozers). Putting up huge ropes to form long, completely unnecessary lines is another good trick to get people asking questions, “If it is this popular on the outside, how amazing is the inside?” However, Korea definitely takes the “most exclusive bar” award with this trick. Of course the sign says “Man Bar,” but don’t let that fool you, because no men are actually allowed in there. Oh, your group of ladies wants to have a girlie-drink, dance-night at “Man Bar?” Well, too bad. Only one of you are allowed inside at a time. Read the sign, does that look plural to you? Didn’t think so. I’m not sure what goes on in there, but I’m pretty sure that the one lady in there has a 0% chance of getting grinded on by creepy dudes or rufied. I don’t care how hot she is, she isn’t going home with anyone tonight.
Adventures in Konglish:
When the assignment is to write five things you would like to learn about concerning astronomy, but instead you write your teacher a tear-jerking hip-hop ballad…you still get full points. Dear Kanye, watch out, Korean children are writing better lyrics than you.
Although I did have to talk with the student about how you can’t actually “do die” and that maybe writing all about death on your homework can be misinterpreted, I think overall he got the jist of the homework down…now I just have to make sure to keep this kid very happy by bringing him candy, stickers, and high fives. Number 9 is definitely the best…”Please sir, if it is alright with you…I mean, I was just wondering…if it’s not too much to ask, may I die?” “Yes, you may die.”
A guy who wishes he could go to the Man Bar…who also writes a blog.