Week Four Picks: Come to Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

I’m a sucker for strange, out-of-this world stories. In this age of social media and limitless sources of information, you’d think there isn’t a tale that hasn’t been told already. But there’s always a nugget that surprisingly blows my mind.

For instance, the profile of the most remote island in the world, Tristan da Cunha piqued my interest since returning home from my vacation with beach sand still in my shoes. I thought St. Pete was secluded. This South Atlantic island, 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, isn’t sand and palm trees. It enjoys an obscene amount of rainfall (up to 26 days’ worth), has no hotels, no safe swimming locales while sitting on an active volcano.

If you’re feeling to get your über-travel on, you have to be prepared, for real. The island’s visitors web page keeps it 100 from the jump:

“You can’t just turn up in Cape Town and jump on a ship to Tristan da Cunha.”

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

First of all, you’d need to ask your employer for some time off, approximately 20-30 days at least, since it takes nearly a week to get there by boat (Oh yeah, did I mention there’s no airport on the island?). Plus, there are only a handful of sailings per year. You have to be serious about visiting. Some travelers stay for months at a time and become part of the community of nearly 300 people; time enough to explore all the trails and wildlife.

Second, you’ll need permission. The Island Council is Tristan da Cunha’s elected body. You want to visit? You literally have to ask them. They give the “yay” or “nay”.

Most who visit the island are of the medical, teaching or religious profession as well as avid hikers, writers and filmmakers. Suffice to say, if your “Why” answer is “To chill with my homies in a far away land,” you’re probably not making the cut.

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council. Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council.
Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Stretching 7.5 miles in diameter, the island hosts many tours such as to the four neighboring islands, the Tristan Settlement and the island’s top, Queen Mary’s Peak.
Its most noteworthy event was its near demise when a volcanic eruption destroyed the island in 1961. All of the residents escaped then returned two years later to rebuild their homes. The event is even commemorated in Tristan de Cunha’s postal stamp.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

Interestingly enough, Tristan is considered a lover’s paradise (it is nicknamed “The Love Island”). In the summertime at Queen Mary’s Peak, the summit crater thaws into a heart-shaped lake.

It is said that the islanders often return there to be married. The residents of Tristan were known to be shy. So, the way they’d show affection was toward the pastime of knitting “Love Socks”. If a man was interested in a woman, he would bring a gift and sit with her family. In return, she would knit him a pair of socks. The stripes on the socks would gauge how much she’d like the guy. Two large stripes were akin to “Yeah, you’re cute,” and two large stripes plus six small stripes were “I sooo want to get with you!” Love Socks and other interesting items are sold in the island’s souvenir shop.

The Summit Crater Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

The Summit Crater
Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Want to find out more about this out-of-world place? Visit Trinstandc.com. If that’s not your cup of tea, well… it’s better than this remote island.

P.S. My good friend Chris Miller shares many tidbits of the interesting on his blog, The Lonely Typewriter. Check it out!

WEEK 4
Last Week: 8-8
Season: 26-22
“Same as before… stinking up the joint!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: ARIZONA, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, DENVER, SEATTLE, ST. LOUIS)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
N.Y. GIANTS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (LONDON) — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 8:30 p.m.

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Week Two Picks: My first Uber morning drive

The names and locations are fictional, the directions are in bold but the car is mine and stories are true, sort of.

AudreyHepburn

“And I say… What about? Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Thursday morning…
There are old houses and trendy eateries with gluten-free selections littered across this storied neighborhood with the original bricks paved onto the roads. It’s bumpy every time I’m here.
My first ride, Michelle cascaded toward the car. I wanted to take a picture to pique any paparazzi interest she might have while in her driveway. Sliding inside, she raised her finger to adjust her sunglasses then proceeded to do her best Audrey Hepburn.

“I want to pick up my friend. She is right around the corner when you get to Literary.” You look much different with a mustache, Michael.

I remembered then by doing this line of work, they’ll know what I look like as well as my car. I almost felt like a celebrity, too.
This is what I got it in for, other than the extra cash: Serving people. Driving is exciting. Communicating with others is what I do for a salary. Combining the two is a dream job, I guess.
Everybody is thankful for my presence. The drunker, the more grateful they become. But today, I figured I could help a damsel in distress who needs to get to work.
Coming off the left turn from Literary Street, Michelle and I discussed the remaining time of summer and cookouts that were rained out. She had an impromptu party to plan and needed a cleaner for her home.
She was in luck. Her friend, Rachel, a petite flower with a charming nose ring and calming voice, had a cousin who was a housekeeper. Her prices were cheap too.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

We stopped outside Rachel’s home as she flowed off her front porch as Michelle did minus the pageant wave. She nestled into my front seat and lean into a solid Anne Hathaway pose.

“It’s best to get on Harmony, it’s a one-way, then left on Morrison Ave.”

Accountants at a boutique store on the far West side, the ladies described their work through the wrath of their manager who doesn’t listen effectively enough for Rachel’s tastes.

I told her when I was hired, I’m going to China for a month, then a weeding in Chicago. So, I needed September and some of October off. She just looked at me and said, “Okay”. She is just there because someone owed her a favor. Uggghh. She is so difficult.

Using her iPhone as a mirror to review her brushstrokes, Michelle nodded in agreement and explained to Rachel that life was easier during their days as baristas. The nose ring slightly tilted as Rachel chuckled then turned to me to drop some knowledge.

You know… you can tell a lot about a person when they order coffee.

With a few blocks from our destination, she grabbed my attention.

Black women always want extra caramel. No matter what, never fails! Old school people like black coffee and are to the point with you. But if there’s a guy who wants anything and everything with decaf, they’re either gay or an asshole.

After I called her out on her generalizations, she offered proof of her findings.

Oh! I tested my theory. There was this guy who went crazy with demands for decaf. He asked for my number and we went out on a date. He was a big time prick.

“You’ll want to make a left here…”
I thought I’d give him another shot. That time, I was drunk when he picked me up. We went to a bowling alley, drank some more and he still was an asshole.
“Pull into this driveway…”

Valid, I said. An asshole is an asshole. The ladies granted me sincere salutations and were on their way. Maybe the next time I enter a Starbucks, I’ll order black coffee with extra caramel.

caramel-coffee-ctr

What does coffee say about you? Leave a comment!

WEEK 2
Last Week: 11-5
Season: 11-5

Best start ever. In history. Yay me!

Picks are in bold

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.

DETROIT LIONS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.

ATLANTA FALCONS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.

DALLAS COWBOYS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m

ST. LOUIS RAMS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:05 p.m.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:25 p.m.

N.Y. JETS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 4:25 p.m.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.

CHICAGO BEARS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 8:30 p.m.

 


Week One Picks: Finding my perfect smile

“You should smile more.”

2014-08-02 11.17.24

This is what I hear often. I particularly don’t like my smile. I have two enormous, over-bitten front choppers that are uncomfortably separated. When I do smile, one might suspect a linebacker is coming to fill my A-gap for a tackle. Also, it doesn’t help I’m 6’3ish” 200-plus lbs. with eyes that pierce steel.

Although I’m a jovial person, my facial features tell otherwise. I’m mistaken for cruel or at least menacing at first glance. Hygiene-wise, I’m on top of my game with my teeth. My problem is conveying happiness to the initial stranger. There are several ways I’m trying to communicate my inner happiness for the whole world to see.

Practice, practice, practice

2014-08-02 12.25.02 2014-08-02 12.25.07 2014-08-02 12.25.11

My smile is one of the original qualities I possess. If I’m going to perfect this train wreck, I got to practice in front of a mirror until I can’t get it wrong. At least I know what I’m working with, so I’m going with a lot of looks here.

The one on the right is known as the standard “Duchenne smile“. It’s the gold standard of smiles. When we do it right and with feeling, the only stressed parts of our face should be the cheeks and corners of our eyes. Although they’re easy to fake, it’s generally a tell of genuine enjoyment. Like this chick below. See how happy she looks…

Click me. You know you want to.

The second shot known as “teeging” where my mouth is slightly open while my tongue is pressed against my teeth. I call it  my “Yes, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, please”  look.

My third and  “THERE’S MORE BP&J?!? I LOVE YOU!” pose is an example of the LOL smile where—at it’s maximum—my happy vein would pop out in the middle of my big forehead. In test driving these positions, one thing I’ve learned is to recognize how my face feels when I’m truly smiling and memorize it. Doing this, I figured out that I often smile with my eyes but the rest of my face doesn’t follow suit. In order to get the full effect, I often try to go for an “eyes-only” approach. It works well when you want to express pleasure without actually screaming “WOO-HOO!”.

I’m not saying cheese!

The exact origin of how this started is debatable, but understandable. When you say cheese, your cheeks expand and your pearly whites show, but the end result looks forced. I’ve found uttering words that end with an “uh” sound such as “yoga” and “mocha”  work well.

But old habits die hard. So here’s a trick. When the person taking the pictures yells, “Say Cheese,” reply in a condescending manner “Nooo”. The slow motion of your diction will retract you cheeks back into the smile you’ve always wanted. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Find your happy place

While taking these three photos, I was thinking of how amazing it was when man first combined peanut butter and jam which made me all tickled inside, thus causing me elation. Thinking happy thoughts does lead to more smiling, but this could also be the case of the egg leading the chicken. Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling makes us happier humans which takes us to our happy place (and happy vein). But watch out… a frown can have the same effect.

Speaking of which, you know that adage “it takes more muscles to frown than to smile”? Well, someone may have been lying to you. On average, we use the same amount of muscles to do both. The difference is in our zygomatic major muscle. That’s the one we flex when we smile. Chances are, we humans are more smilers than frowners. With any muscle, the more we work it, the stronger it becomes. Thus frowning may appear to be a tad bit harder due to inactivity.

Learning to smile is so simple but becoming cognizant of how it’s perceived is just one of the many life-hackish improvements I’m undergoing. After all, it promotes trust and a better understanding of my fellow humans. It’s just one of those small things that can lead to big opportunities.

And that’ll put a smile on my face.

 

We start fresh. New Season: New Beginning

0-0

WEEK 1 – My predictions are in BOLD

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 8:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 1:00 p.m.

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.

BUFFALO BILLS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.

TENNESSEE TITANS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 1:00 p.m.

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.

CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:25 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8

N.Y. GIANTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 7:10 p.m.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 10:20 p.m.