Despite advances in technology, medicine, intelligence, and health, which have all rapidly accelerated our world into the modern 21st century, humans still have an unusual tendency to point to the caveman as a reference for forging ahead with their meat-eating addiction. Continue reading “The meaty manly myth”
So this is the year my writing finally comes to the foreground. A quick glance over my blog for 2017 will take you 2 seconds (don’t do it, it’s not worth the time) to see I put up zip, zero, nada, a goose egg! Alright, so I did publish a few posts, but they were certainly nothing substantial, but just enough words on the screen to let you wonderful people know I hadn’t disappeared.
We arrived in Vegas on Sunday afternoon, Oct 1, and we went to a show that night at the MGM at 7pm. We came out around 8:30pm. A few hours later, unfortunately, history was made…
When the shooting happened, Sel and I were already in our hotel room at the Elara Hilton. I was asleep. But we’d traveled to Vegas with 10 of our friends. A few of our group were still out on the strip when the shooting started, and they were staying at the Excalibur, which is pretty close to Mandalay Bay. We didn’t know at the time what was going on, just that something was happening up near Mandalay Bay and there was an active shooter on the strip, as the news headlines screamed.
Sel rang one of the girls, and while they were talking, our friend started saying “oh shit, everyone’s running”, and suddenly Sel couldn’t hear her, she could just hear people shouting. She woke me up and we went down into the lobby to try and meet them so they could stay in our room. As we reached the lobby, people started running back toward us and the elevators yelling, “shit, he’s coming! he’s coming!” We quickly turned and jumped back into the elevator and a couple that ran back toward us literally dove into the elevator and smashed the buttons as hard as they could to get the elevator moving. The girl was hysterical, and said they were at the festival and had seen their friend get shot. We hightailed it to our room on the 34th floor and locked the door.
In hindsight, the guy was never anywhere near us. In fact, he never left his hotel room at Mandalay Bay. But those few minutes are possibly the most freaked out I’ve ever been. So to try to guess what it was like for the people who were actually caught up in the crossfire, and physically, mentally, and emotionally experiencing everything that was happening at the festival is well beyond my imagination.
The rest of our group who were out made it to a nearby casino/hotel and were in lockdown for most of the night, but they were safe, and once we knew everyone was safe, we turned our attention to the news. We watched it unfold on the screen while seeing a mass of flashing lights, and hearing a ridiculous amount of sirens below us out the window. It was still hard to put the two events together.
Monday morning and the strip was incredibly eerie. As you would expect, the mood was sombre. Several eateries had signs saying they were either closed due to the events of the night before, or they’d be opening later than usual. We assumed that was because as soon as everything went down, they either fled or were put on lockdown and didn’t get a chance to clean up and shut up shop properly.
I got the feeling that people around us didn’t know how to react, or how to act. When you consider that most people staying around the strip likely aren’t locals, it’s a strange feeling. Especially We have zero connection to Vegas. This is where we’ve come twice now just to get caught up in the lights, the atmosphere, the attractions & shows, and generally just have a good time. This is the place where reality is supposed to disappear for a few days.
Well reality hit us all like a tonne of bricks.
No matter where we’ve gone over the last two days, it feels like the two broken windows from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay have been sticking out like sore thumbs and looking down over the strip. We went on a tour out to Hoover Dam yesterday, and going past on the bus, we could see the detailed outline of the shattered glass. To think he was standing there with a gun pointed out the window less than two days was sobering.
But the messages that have lit up all around Vegas since Monday morning, plus the attitude of the locals, employees and the police has been quite incredible.
On Monday morning, every casino used their electronic billboard to tell people where they could donate blood, and who to contact about loved ones. It then switched to messages about thoughts and prayers for everyone involved, and now a message of thanks.
On Tuesday we thanked a few police officers who were standing on the strip. They were humble, but they were regretful that they didn’t reach him sooner, despite the incredibly legitimate claims that the first responders did a helluva job in stopping this from becoming an even worse tragedy then it already was. The police presence around the strip since has been exceptional. Not because they’re watching people with suspicion, or fearing another attack, but I personally believe the aim is to make everyone feel safe again.
This tragedy has given me a permanent connection to Vegas. An unfortunate one, but one that has also given me a perspective I didn’t expect. Whenever a tragedy occurs around the world, I used to cringe when I saw a flood of hashtags… #prayforthis #prayforthat, and it felt as though people jumped on the easy bandwagon; ‘I’ve done my part for that tragedy.’ But in such close proximity to the receiving end of the tweets and prayers and hashtags coming from around the world, from a very broad perspective, I can kind of see how it helps people and a community to know that everyone is thinking of them, even if it is a 5 second social media message.
So, as with anything as tragic and as unexpected as this, it’s a timely reminder to remember not to take your life for granted. Enjoy every moment, love your friends and family, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
So it’s travel time again.
To the U.S of A (again) for the next 4 weeks.
This time we’re taking 10 friends with us!
What’s the first thought that enters your mind when you wake up in the morning?
Do you look forward to the day ahead, or do you skip the weekdays and only look ahead to the weekend?
Do you think of those pesky tasks on your to-do list and immediately start dreading them?
Do you wake up like a zombie with no thought at all? Continue reading “Wake up & smell the coffee!”
Here’s an experimental short story I knocked up on my morning train journey to work over the past two weeks. Continue reading “Eli’s journey”
6 months ago I made the decision to trial a life of not eating animals or animal-related products for a few weeks. No more meat, cheese, milk, honey and so on. After a few weeks, I realised the likelihood of reverting back was slim. And so it proved, the trial turned into a permanent change. So, how am I doing 6 months on?
The short answer: Absolutely fantastic
Have there been hiccups along the way? Of course. But with anything worth doing in life, there exists the occasional roadblock to test your mental fortitude as if to ask, ‘do you really mean what you’re saying and doing?’
As the weeks rolled by, I learnt that one by one, I was crossing more food off the list of what I could eat. Sometimes it was hugely disappointing, especially if I had my heart set on something specific. Other times, it wasn’t so bad.
- Jelly lollies? Nope, they’re made with gelatin. Where does gelatin come from? Google it….
- A pastry from the bakery? Full of butter.
- Veggie patty on a burger? Sorry, made with eggs..
- A packet of salt and vinegar chips (crisps)? Nah-uh, it has milk solids.
In fact a lot of things are made using milk solids. Nevermind. As a vegan, you learn to find some cheeky loopholes – food that at first glance you wouldn’t think you could eat, but a quick scan of the ingredients leaves you wide-eyed and drooling… i.e. most variations of Oreos!What you may have noticed is that most of that food above is generally unhealthy anyway. Animal aside, it’s food I’m better off avoiding. By mostly eating healthy, I’ve found I view junk food differently than I used to. When I used to spot someone eating a Big Mac, more often than not it made me crave one myself. Now, I look at the person, not the burger, and what I see is quite often a horribly unhealthy looking person jamming part of an animal down their throat. I don’t miss it at all.
I’ve learnt that some people view veganism as a diet. The more apt word is lifestyle, and while that sounds clichéd, it’s true for me. The word diet conjures up images of going without and cutting back certain foods. Veganism doesn’t involve either of these things. I don’t go without meat, it’s just simply no longer an option. Just as some people would never consider eating say, haggis, I no longer consider eating meat. I also don’t cut back. I either eat a food or I don’t. It generally either has animal or it doesn’t.
The problem with a diet is that it’s too easy to succumb to bad food and tell yourself that you’ll run an extra lap or two around the park later that day (which let’s face it, won’t happen). If you’re vegan for the animals, you can’t eat animal and then make up for it later. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Food aside, the moral benefit of eating vegan has already proven to be fulfilling and frustrating in equal measures. Although I feel vastly better mentally and physically about my choice, it’s also opened my eyes to how mindless and contradictory society is when it comes to animals. Dog rescue/animal shelter on one corner, a BBQ steakhouse on the next. People crying out about animal abuse because a puppy was tortured and killed, but the same people will bury their head in the sand when it comes to discussing how that sizzling bacon ends up on their plate. Vegans have developed a well-known reputation for being ‘preachy’, yet for decades, the meat and dairy industry has never held back on flooding us with messages telling us what to eat and drink. Food for thought hey…
All in all, going vegan is one of the best things I’ve done. Mentally and spiritually I feel so much better, and physically I feel great, not to mention I’m leaner than I have been in years.