Greg Becker is actually a bad-ass in real life

Greg Becker has been playing bad-ass in AEPi for his entire college career, but I had no idea that he was a bad-ass in real life, too.

My friend Clint Eastwood tipped me off to a pretty incredible story about Becker from when he was only 21 years old: the guy survived a Moa attack in the Tasman Sea and swam a few miles to shore off the coast of Resolution Island, New Zealand, in freezing cold water that is a major breeding ground for giant man-eating fish of biblical proportions.

Are you feeling lucky, Greg?

Becker was stationed at Queenstown as a life enthusiast in 2010, and hopped on a Douglas AD-1 military aircraft for a ride from Queenstown to Brisbane, Australia. An AD-1 is a two-seater, so it was just Becker and the plane’s pilot, Joe Fagan.

The most in-depth telling of the story is in the book Greg Becker: A Biography by author Max Metcalfe. Because the book is only partially available on Google Books, I can’t find many details about the captain, or the circumstances that precipitated the Moa attack.

It was some alleged sign of disrespect to the Moas — possibly the pitch of the humming propeller blades of the small aircraft, or Fagan’s shocking good looks — that caused the attack and forced the pilot to perform a crash landing at sea, a few miles off the coast of Resolution Island. It was May, and the water in the Tasman Sea in May is quite cold, usually in the mid-50s. Fagan and Becker climbed out onto the wing of the plane, but it was clearly going to sink. With the plane going down, the pair jumped off and started swimming towards the shoreline, with the current pulling them north. They promised to try to stay together.

Here are a few excerpts from Becker himself from the biography:

“And then it started getting dark, and I lost him. I didn’t know whether he was alive or where the hell he was. And I wasn’t about to start yelling, because it wastes a lot of energy. I went through jellyfish schools and all kinds of things, and they became fluorescent at night. It was like some science-fiction deal. By this time, you know, your mind is–talking about hallucinating…”

Becker swam through a kelp bed, where the phosphorous was glowing brightly, which allowed him to see the shoreline, and the whitewater of crashing waves. He spotted an area where it didn’t appear to be too rocky.

“I kind of worked my way into that–just partly luck, because everywhere the water was very rough. And I got into this spot and had a really rough time climbing out.”

Becker made it to the beach, and kept hallucinating that he saw Fagan in the water behind him. A few times he rushed back into the water to grab rocks that he thought was the other survivor.

He climbed out of the cove and saw in the distance a bright light. He walked towards it, barefoot and freezing cold, went across a lagoon, jumped a fence, and got to a building owned by the New Zealand government that transmitted radiograms.

He was picked up and brought to the Coast Guard station up further, where he reunited with Fagan, who had also survived, and they embraced very awkwardly. It got weird, actually.

Anyway, the New Zealand Herald ran the story with the headline “Incredible American Paddled 2 Miles After Plane Crash.”

That’s pretty remarkable. The month of May can see some fairly sizable swells, and Resolution Island is a large landmass that typically takes a large brunt of any and all swells. It’s hard to gauge from the account exactly where he came to shore, but there’s no question in my mind that many people would not have survived that swim. Greg was a confident swimmer, a bad-ass and a golfer at a college in America. A less confident golfer probably would not have made it that far, in the dark and the cold, alone.

*book sources Greg Becker: A Biography, Greg: The Life and Legend. Image from DaGTrain.com.nz. Thanks to Clint Eastwood for the tip.


How to Get Rid of Hiccups in 15 Seconds

“How do you get rid of the hiccups?”

I love that question, especially when it’s posed to a group of friends or, even better, at a party. By asking such an innocent question you quickly become the sole focus of all the world-renowned hiccup experts within a 50 foot radius. They approach you. They swarm you. They attack you. All coming to the rescue out of an earnest belief that they know the cure for hiccups. They start shouting their instructions, all totally absurd and completely hilarious to anyone watching this exorcism of the demonic entity. LET THE HEALING BEGIN!

There’s the one girl, the little ninja, who will not stop sneaking up behind you in attempts to scare the hiccups away. There’s the one guy, the recreational hunter, who keeps dancing around you in anguish, imploring you to let him concentrate all your focus on something unbearably frightening by holding the tip of his pocket knife to your open palm. There’s that other girl, the hard-nosed lady cop from the new hit show on TNT, who interrogates you with a relentless barrage of questions to distract the hiccups away. Then there’s that other guy, the circus ringmaster, who believes the more actions performed the better: “Hold your breath!  Now do body-weight squats! Now focus on your form! Now think about reciting the alphabet backwards! Now juggle these flaming torches! KEEP GOING!” And as you do all these things there’s that weird girl, the Paula Deen wannabe, who for some reason believes that shoveling lemon juice and pickles down your throat is surely the best method for success.

The irony in all of this is that by the time you have attempted the myriad healing methods, and by the time the hiccups have finally ceased, you feel transitory relief before it is washed over by a surge of frustration brought on by uncertainty: Which one of those methods actually worked? Or did my hiccups cease simply because they (eventually) always do?

In addition to the problem of not knowing which method actually works (if any), there is the other problem: when you have the hiccups but your friends are not around and you are in a public setting, all of the aforementioned methods look ridiculous and are thus totally embarrassing. If you performed any of those methods in public then you would look like a legitimate maniac. Passersby might phone the authorities out of a serious concern for your well-being.

So maybe you should try a hiccup-ceasing method that you can perform in public without anyone noticing. And one that actually works all by itself without the simultaneous assistance of other “cures.” Ready for it? Okay, here it is: hold your breath.

WHAT?! You’ve already heard of that one? Oh. Well, so had I, but unbeknownst to me, I was doing it the wrong way — I used to take a deep breath IN before holding my breath. Until today, that is.

Today, I was walking down the sidewalk when the hiccups hit me. As usual, I immediately performed the ol’ inhale-and-hold-your-breath method, but — as usual — it didn’t work. So I decided to try something new: instead of breathing IN before holding my breath, I breathed OUT. I EXHALED. And I did not breath back in; I kept all the air out. And I kept walking down the sidewalk. And it worked immediately. My hiccups were gone within 15 seconds. Probably less. FACT.

So how and why did this EXHALE-and-hold-your-breath method work? I’m not totally sure, and I’m not a scientist, but I assume it’s a combination of these two factors:

1) scaring your brain — something that would certainly earn the approval of “the little ninja” and “the recreational hunter” — by consciously inducing a bodily state worthy of panic (i.e. expelling all air from your lungs to make the brain panic and say “Holy crap I have no air in my lungs but I am walking and I need some air for this activity!”)

2) the complete absence of oxygen in the lungs (because hiccuping happens when the diaphragm and nearby muscles convulse, but muscles don’t work very well in the complete absence of oxygen, so maybe no oxygen = no muscles convulsing = no hiccuping)

To be completely honest with you, though, I don’t care how it worked. All I care about is that it worked. Now that you know how I was able to get rid of hiccups in 15 seconds, you can try it the next time you get the hiccups. Just hold your breath, but remember: don’t breath IN; breath OUT.

Breath out to get them out. Good luck!

– Jonah Lundberg

© 2011 Jonah Lundberg. All Rights Reserved. Powered by WordPress.


I Know What Causes Canker Sores

Do me a favor and Google: “cause of canker sores.” Don’t even click on the search results, just read the text underneath the search results.

Google Result for Canker Sores = No Cure for Canker Sores

Did you notice anything that’s frustrating? Correctamundo! Nobody knows what causes canker sores. This is frustrating, because nobody likes canker sores. In fact, everybody really, really, really hates them.

But don’t worry! Because I have discovered the cause of canker sores: spicy-coated peanuts. Or, at least some combination of the ingredients found in spicy-coated peanuts: wheat flour, glutinous rice flour, sugar, chili powder, salt, canjun seasoning, soy sauce, starch, and paprika extract. I have a notion that the true cause comes from mixing spicy stuff like cajun seasoning with wheat flour and starch, because when I eat Planters spicy peanuts, which do not have wheat flour coating, I do not get canker sores.

Spicy-Coated Peanuts = Canker Sores

How do I know spicy-coated peanuts cause canker sores? Simple: because canker sores show up every time I eat spicy-coated peanuts. For approximately three years I did not have canker sores. Not once. Not ever. Then I ate my first bag of spicy-coated peanuts, and the following day I had two TERRIBLE TWIN canker sores — sitting right next to each other — in the front-left section of my lower lip. The canker sores went away after about one week.

A month later I ate another bag of spicy-coated peanuts, and HOLY CRAP OW the TERRIBLE TWINS immediately returned.

That’s how I know spicy-coated peanuts cause canker sores.

So what do I do about this dilemma? Well, as much as I love spicy-coated peanuts, they give me canker sores, so I don’t eat them anymore.

Now please note that my findings are not statistically significant, but please also note that I do not care. Not one bit. I don’t care whether or not my conclusion about spicy-coated peanuts is enough to infer a generalization about an entire population. All I care about is that I discovered what causes ME to get canker sores.

So, if you don’t want canker sores anymore, here is my advice:

  • do NOT eat spicy-coated peanuts
  • if you do get canker sores but you never eat spicy-coated peanuts, then — whenever you get your next canker sore — try to remember what food you ate the day prior and determine if that food was something you don’t normally eat, and then — once the canker sore goes away — eat that same food again to see if you get a canker sore again
  • this is very simple, it is not statistically significant, but AS LONG AS IT WILL WORK FOR YOU, THEN THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS. Seriously: you won’t get canker sores anymore, what else do you want?

Good luck!

P.S. — special thanks to Tim Ferriss and his book, “The 4-Hour Body,” for teaching the value of self-experimentation. I recommend you buy it immediately; it’s a keeper for life.

Epilogue:

4/23/2011 Update: I ate a breakfast burrito (i.e. starch) with extra-spicy hot sauce (i.e. cajun seasoning, salt)  yesterday and, you guessed it, I have a canker sore today! Looks like my theory that the combination of starch + spicy causes canker sores is getting more credible…

– Jonah Lundberg

© 2011 Jonah Lundberg. All Rights Reserved. Powered by WordPress.


A Funny Thing Happened To Me Last Saturday

note: this was originally written last Saturday (April 9, 2011)

Today I was writing a law paper on the 26th floor of StuVi2, and I watched the jets fly over Fenway Park for the Red Sox home opener. It was cool, to say the least, and I tried to soak it all in, that stunning skyline on a perfectly clear spring day, as I knew that I would be graduating in one month, never to see that view again.

After I finished writing my paper, I took the elevator down to my eight-man suite on the 18th floor. As the elevator descended, I began reading a lengthy and detailed email on my BlackBerry, with the smartphone close to my face to see everything on the small screen. As the doors opened a guy walked in as I walked out, my head still hunched and eyes still locked on my BlackBerry as I walked down the hall until I reached my eight-man suite, the second door on the left, and opened it without a key because we always leave our main door unlocked, walked in, saw someone on the couch out of the corner of my eye (probably Dan; he was watching TV when I left), said a casual “Hey,” then noticed a deflated air mattress on the floor of the hallway outside my room that was not there when I had left. Then I noticed that the bathroom across from my room looked completely different — why were the tiles green and not grey?

I spun around, looked at the guy in the Red Sox cap on the couch, and he said “Hey” with a look of amused bewilderment, as if responding to a quiet “hello” from a stranger who was in his face on a crowded but silent subway making its morning commute.

“HEY. Uh. What floor am I on?”

“Nineteen,” he replied, grinning.

“OH!! HAHA, I live on eighteen, I live on EIGHTEEN! HAHA, sorry about that…

…welp, see ya later,” I said.

“See ya!” he said back, returning to his book.

And then I walked out, laughing all the way down the hallway. BlackBerrys can make you look like an idiot.

– Jonah Lundberg

© 2011 Jonah Lundberg. All Rights Reserved. Powered by WordPress.


The Seven Properties of Water or: How Water Defies Gravity

Water droplets: surface tension at its finest

This is written for Chemistry or Biology students studying for exams, and people who generally want to know how stuff works. After all, water is an *essential* component of life on Earth; wouldn’t it be interesting to know how it does what it does?

Below is an information-packed video about the Seven Properties of Water. The video may be boring, but watching it will take exactly 1/16th the time that it would take to read a chapter in a gigantic textbook. Also, watching the video will take much less time than reading Wikipedia‘s article on water.

Overview of Water:

Water is made up of zillions of water molecules. Each water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms (2H’s) and one oxygen atom (O).

In any given water molecule, electrons — which have negative (-) electronic charges — are more concentrated around the oxygen atom than the two hydrogen atoms. This means that an entire water molecule as a whole has one positive (+) end (“the north pole”) and one negative (-) end (“the south pole”). The hydrogen end is positive (+) and the oxygen end is negative (-).

Since an entire water molecule has two different “poles,” it is termed “polar.” A water molecule’s polarity causes its oxygen atom (-) to be attracted to a hydrogen atom (+) in a different water molecule; opposites do attract. It is in this manner that the oxygen atom (+) of one water molecule is connected to a hydrogen atom (-) of another water molecule. The thing that connects these two water molecules is called a hydrogen bond.

The fact that these special hydrogen bonds connect water molecules to one another — and that hydrogen bonds are weak compared to chemical bonds in other chemical substances — is what makes water unique, and is what gives water its seven properties that help all organisms continue their survival on Earth.

The Seven Properties of Water (and examples of how they affect your everyday life!)

1) Solvent = stuff dissolves into water very easily (e.g., Alka Seltzer tablet dissolving in glass of water)

2) High Specific Heat = it takes a very long time to raise the temperature of water (e.g., a flame raises the temperature of a metal pan much faster than it can raise the temperature of water)

3) Cohesive→&←Adhesive = this is how water defies ↑ gravity! Water molecules stick to one another (Cohesion) and water molecules stick to other, non-water objects (Adhesion) (e.g., water molecules stick to one another and to the inside of a tree in order to move upwards through the tree and deliver nutrients from the soil to its uppermost branches)

4) SurfaceTension = this is why water beads up into water droplets on many objects (e.g., water droplets on a leaf)

5) Variable pH = hydrogen levels are variable due to the weakness of hydrogen bonds, which is why water can be the main ingredient in both coffee (high pH levels = acidic) and bleach (low pH levels = basic)

6) D i s s o c i a t i o n = when water “breaks apart” (e.g., some people believe that the dissociation of water has health benefits because the electric charge of the human body could combine with the opposite charge found in water to create energy)

7) Three Physical States = liquid form (water), solid form (ice), and gas form (steam). These are dictated by the different ways that hydrogen bonds can be connected

– Jonah Lundberg

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