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» Tales of the Unexplained

Damn you, brain..
Let me first say, like quite a few people who have posted already, that i am rather a terrible cynic. I don't believe in the paranormal (although it is extremely interesting in a cultural/psychological kind of way). I don't believe in Beardy McSkyface, fate, luck, homeopathy, acupuncture, chi, ectoplasm (even though I find THAT on a regular basis... Call it plausible deniability), the bermuda triangle, crop circles, UFOs (I'll get to that later), ouija boards, any kind of religion. You can tell I am a blast at parties...

Alot of the stories this week have been about unexplained sightings / experiences (funny that). I used to think (back when I was seventeen, knew everything and didn't use quite so many parentheses) that anyone who believed in things of this nature were mistaken, deluded or just plain idiots. Then I had an experience that made me realise something. It was a weekend trip to Amsterdam. 'What? This is a drug story! Nothing to do with the paranormal!', you shout, but hear me out.

Thing is, during the course of a long weekend in Amsterdam, I accidentally (okay, not entirely) ate a huge bunch of mushrooms. I'm talking, a little bit more than you're meant to take in one go, at least your first time. A few of my friends had rather adverse reactions to the stuff, but I escaped relatively unscathed. I did spend an entire night in the dark in our motel room (everyone else had to leave to chase one of our friends who wet himself and ran away to jump in a canal, they had to fish him out), but the experience was like nothing else I had ever had before.

It was that night I realised just how powerful the human brain is, what incredible ability it has to decieve. To put it in a really nerdy context, it's like a GeForce 99millionXT in terms of graphics processing power. People who haven't been on drugs can't really describe it - I saw things that night, not like some drunk guy who can't see properly - I actually saw the carpet turning into water, swallowing the furniture. I saw the walls bend into spirals, the door turn circular like Frodo's house in LOTR. The funny thing was that through all of this all I could think about was how amazing my brain was to be able to create these things for me - what kind of a computer would it take to be able to render the kinds of things I was seeing? And not some fuzzy, half remembered drunken antics, this was vivid. And I still remember it. I have since had similar experiences (on drugs) and these have confirmed what i thought - I'm not saying drugs are great or anything like that, they just give you a striking glimpse of what the human brain is capable of visualising. You can say that the drugs create these things, but they don't. All the drugs are doing is releasing chemicals in the brain which trigger certain parts of it to become active (or over-active).

Which brings me to my point (eventually). It's not surprising at all that so many people have paranormal, religious and spiritual experiences. In all of this, no-one really gives the brain its due credit - it is an insanely powerful machine, capable of visulising things that no-one could ever dream of - and we don't know the half of what it can do. The brain remains one of the biggest mysteries to science (one of the few things I have total faith in, if you can call it that). Be it sleep deprivation, stress, drugs, whatever trigger, the brain can, and will, do amazing things whether you ask for them or not, and often without warning.

I don't want to sound preachy or weird, but I have seen what my brain can do, and how utterly convincing it was, and it has made me a lot more understanding towards people who have had weird things happen to them, be it on drugs or not. The brain really just is the greatest liar of them all.

People who attribute their extraordinary experiences to ghosts, the almighty, or UFOs should stop and think about the most amazing thing of all... that squashy pink thing sitting between their ears. It holds all the answers. And someday, hopefully, we will learn them.

But then, do we really want to?


Its about six inches long and sits in your head, at the controls!
(Tue 8th Jul 2008, 0:22, More)

» Never Meet Your Heroes

Pete Doherty and Kate Moss
Met them quite unexpectedly at Glastonbury last year. Was walking along one of the raised wooden walkways (to avoid being up to your waist in mud), when suddenly a car pulls up right next to me, and I step down into the mud so the passenger window is where my face is. I glance in, and there are good old Pete and Kate, who both look directly at me. Being Glastonbury and being me, I'm wearing a big blue fuzzy hat and have mud on my face - basically a very happy, if a little demented, hippy.

Being at a complete loss for anything to say, I do the first thing that comes into my head - I stand stiffly to attention and give them a great big salute, twirly hands and everything.

Kate just looked a little scared, but Pete, bless him, grinned and ripped off a perfect copy of my salute. Then the car drove off again. What a nice bloke.

Then I went to find the beer tent.
(Mon 29th May 2006, 13:52, More)

» Kids

Children and destruction
I'm not that great with children. I don't have that in-built sense that some people have that tells them when it's the time to pick the buggers up by their feet and swing them around small living rooms, or when doing the exact same thing will result in crying and me looking like some kind of child swinging mentalist. My brother, bless him, can walk into a room full of children (our extended family has a veritably never ending supply of them) and within minutes be covered in the things, they love him so. Despite me trying to say all the right things and give an outward appearance of being a loveable uncle-y, play-fighting, coin-behind-your-ear type figure, children generally regard me with the kind of suspicion adults have for dieticians and Jehovah's Witnesses.
So imagine my delight when the current Mrs Handybread's nephews, now 6 and 4 respectively, seemed to take a liking to me! This was at a time when making a very good impression with her family was the number one priority, and the two boys, who I was secretly dreading meeting, decided that I was cool (I liked star wars too). Oh what fun we had playing light saber battles and being daleks (I make a very good dalek, I am told). All was going splendidly until... the lego incident.

I love lego, have done all my life. I recently found a treasure trove of lego at my parents house, so the first thing I did was up-end it all over a towel on the floor (to make it easy to put back in the box, obviously) and spend five hours making a the most awesomest spaceship base ever. It had a very sophisticated gun turret defence system and everything.. I'm 24.

But ANYWAYS, I was delighted to learn that the kids loved lego too, and had their own (quite impressive) collection. Eager to showcase my (new found) bon homie with kids (and simultaneously impress the possibly in-laws) I agreed to look after them at one of the family's dinner parties, by entertaining them with my lego prowess.

All was going well, it was just me and the two of them, all the guests (20 or so, canapes and the like) are upstairs, we're getting on like a house on fire. We've made a castle out of lego to rival Colditz, I've put lots of effort into it - you know how it is, the kids are more interested in chucking lego figures at each other - so I've spent ages making this castle, it has a defence system (yes, castles as well as spaceship bases need defence systems, trust me), moats, everything.

Then, the youngest one gets this gleam in his eyes, and that's just about the time I remember that the one unifying drive behind all children (okay, maybe just boys) is the love of destruction - the look on his four year old face as he ripped one of the walls (plus crenellations) from my lego castle and used it to beat into individual blocks the entire thing is something I don't think I will ever forget. That is, until I have some children of my own. I have a feeling I may have to get used to it.

The worst thing about that night was the fact that after laying waste to my hours-long creation in a couple of minutes, the bugger realised that this might be trouble for him (especially seeing that he must have noticed the despair in my eyes), so decided to pre-empt the situation by running upstairs and declaring to the (very packed) room above that I had just broken his castle. Cue Mrs Handybread coming downstairs to find me practically in tears, sat cross-legged amongst the wreckage of my destroyed lego fortress, all semblage of uncle-y-ness lost. The kids had long since escaped, but were subsequently hunted down after setting fire to a car and killing next door's cat. As I said, I'm not very good with children...
(Wed 23rd Apr 2008, 23:50, More)

» World's Sickest Joke

Not sick, but makes me snort drink through my nose
Q: Why do elephants have big ears?

A: Because Noddy wouldn't pay the ransom

C'mon, its funny, alright?
(Tue 6th Dec 2005, 21:45, More)

» Putting the Fun in Funeral

When I go...
I know this isn't really a funeral story per se, but I've made my friends and family swear that when I die, they will load my body into a rocket, fire it into orbit and then blow it up. I want to go out with a bang!

Even better, I want to be placed in a geostationary orbit (with a little window so I can see) over a plaque which reads 'He will forever be watching us'. Which will be true, for whoever is standing at the plaque.

I know I shouldnt be thinking so much into this.

Length will only grow greater with death
(Thu 11th May 2006, 19:04, More)
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