You gotta sleep to dream

You gotta sleep to dream

Whenever we (I'm referring to everyone here) gets a chance to see themselves in another light its like we are looking at ourselves in our sleep. That version of us is still asleep, still dreaming, in a lucid subconscious state where the rules of this reality don’t apply to them. "Can’t do this, can't-do that, that's not allowed", go ahead try and stop me. The best part is when you finally realize you are dreaming and you can make anything possible. 

Convenient Keto

Convenient Keto

A ketogenic diet usually consists of a macro nutriet count of 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates. Anyone keen on keto or their nutrition is automatically going to flip over a product and scan the nutrition facts. Every dish seemed to have whopping +40 grams of saturated fat per serving. This is astounding! I’ve noticed while cooking for myself on keto I'm always looking to supplement the dish with additional saturated fat that my dish would be lacking primarily and I’d do this with, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, or MCT oil. Not here! 

How to Travel Mexico and Save the Deena in one Week

How to Travel Mexico and Save the Deena in one Week

Still drunk, still high, and maybe, just maybe an hour of sleep this morning. Waking up was the W of the new year and now I was off to the airport. Checked in, aisle seat secured and trying to force myself to vomit. Alas, I had no luck what so ever. The aisle seat was tremendous and I crashed all the way to Cancun. So far so good right? HONKKKKKKKKK! A 2-hour line at the rental car. I bided my time by eating almonds and trying to figure out how to turn my phone on.

He Lives!

He Lives!

"Who would fly all the way around the world in order to train under me in basketball?" I completely fail to see, until now, that this is something I would do. I would fly around the world to chase something I love. Watching Kaz make the sacrifice of not just his time but of all his funds was like looking back in time and watching myself follow my basketball dreams.

Loads of Love in Live Oak

I know I know this thing should be up to date with the times but it's my blog so fuck you! I’ll write this whenever I want to. I'm just playing, but man I sounded like an asshole, and the funny thing is the piece I am about to write is about an amazing time I had at a festival on the weekend of Halloween.

I drove up with a few buddies to Live Oak in Northern Florida for a festival called Suwannee Hulaween. I was making the trip with a bacterial infection in my foot and one of my other buddies was recovering from strep so we knew surviving the festival wouldn’t be easy. I had heard many amazing things about this festival dating back to when I was in high school but I never set the time to check it out. The best part is there are no regrets about never making it up this way until this moment because that weekend couldn’t have been more perfect.

Before you head to a festival you can usually get a read on what the crowd is going to be like. EDM festivals have primarily attendees 16-25 years old and sometimes you can even predict the drug of choices at these things. I know this solely through poll numbers and anecdotal evidence. However, with a cross-genre festival like Suwannee and the aspect of camping thrown in the mix, I didn’t know what to expect. If I could paint a picture for all of you who weren’t there, imagine a sea of trolls. Hold on hold on...for those of you who don’t know what trolling is, a troll is defined as making a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. Some people believe that trolling only exists online. Either this is part of an elaborate troll or they are being trolled. It’s a universe of trolls I tell you!

Anyways these trolls were very, very, subtle, and elicited when you least expected; the true calling card of a good troll. This made for a weekend of non-stop laughs and entertainment with anyone and everyone looking to mess with one another.

The initial spark that draws someone to a festival they have never been to before, is the music. It could be a genre they enjoy listening to, or their favorite artist happens to be performing there, or even an artist they have never seen and would like to see live is performing. I have been to plenty of festivals and to be honest, I have seen everyone you could possibly dream to see electronically. Suwannee, however, is a cross-genre music festival with artists performing blue grass, hip-hop, r&b, soul, funk, dubstep, instrumental livetronica, reggae, rock, techno, and house music. I only knew a few acts on the card and was excited to get my world rocked by music I never heard before. At Suwannee, something more happened, and I was blown away. Acts like Anderson Pak & The Free Nationals, Sean Lennon and Les Claypool, Bob Moses, Illenium, all 12938012 string cheese incident shows that I saw, Greensky bluegrass, there wasn’t a bad performance all weekend. A notable performance was a drum solo by Anderson Paak where he improvised an entire skit with a dialogue between a mother and son. And the son is begging for his mom to get him a pair of jordans. Growing up a sneaker freak that one hit home for me.

When you watch different performances or shows small things can make or break having a great time. However, the amazing crew of friends I met at the festival, throw in all those beautiful troll souls running around, and incredible, I mean, INCREDIBLE production, only made for every set being near perfect.

Bacteria infection of the foot and I am looking to stay optimal and healthy huh? Well, I brought up plenty of first aid and kept my foot clean as best as possible. Dressing the wound at 5 am in the woods with a  flashlight in your mouth is no feat but its definitely a new trait I learned to take on the road. My buddies and I brought a treasure trove of goodies and snacks and for the most part, we ate clean the entire weekend and I believed helped us party and dance longer and harder than anyone. I put together just under 100 fat balls. A friend of mine helped me prepare them and even make the sign. Not one ball was sold yet many were distributed throughout the camp and many of my new friends and strangers learned about the benefits of dietary fat.

Its tough encapsulating a weekend like this one. Its hard for humans to express any kind of emotion when our lives are only becoming easier. Less interaction in the real world and it seems we are plugging in more to have experiences rather than having these experiences head on. Almost like one simulation is outcompeting the other. The one we are plugged into now is getting beat out by the one with the technology that we are creating. I wonder if this new simulation is going to be perfect or if it's going to have all of our imperfections programmed in. It's going to be boring if everything is going right and nothing goes wrong. My favorite moments of life are triumphing over my despair and becoming a stronger person. The comparison can be made to humans in general; because ya we fuck up a lot and do a lot of things detrimental to ourselves and our planet and many of us get very down on ourselves and other humans for these atrocities. However when I was running around this festival looking at the excitement, the joy, the beauty, the art, and the music I couldn’t help but enjoy and be excited that I am on team human. I gained a greater appreciation of what it is to be a human being.

Look around take in all the things that us, humans have created and celebrate for a second. Celebrate in the fact that we have all these incredible things. Hell, celebrate your existence because we don’t know what happens before and we don’t know what happens after.

The Other Side of the Festival Divide

I love music festivals! The atmosphere, the energy, the excitement, the music, the art, and even enjoy the grunge at a music festival that most people tend to shy away from. I don’t think there is any other place like them on earth. A place where anyone can run around not being judged by the way they dance, they look, or what they are wearing. Needless to say it’s rare for me to turn down a free ticket to a music festival, however, this past weekend I said no to attending a music festival out in California and I in turn ended up working at a festival in Wynwood, Miami called III points. I was going to be assisting and running the merchandise tent with a buddy of mine.

While pitching me to work the festival my friend was explaining how this was a very laidback festival and that I would be allowed to have drinks and check out any musical acts as I pleased. All this was true when I was working with him however when I was managing the tent it was a bit more hectic and a lot harder to get away at times. It was especially hectic when you had to deal with artist managers. If I had to say whose managers were the toughest it had to be Method Man and Red Mans. They had a long list of demands, but in the end when we didn’t adhere to all them they were cool with splitting the profits between the two of them. The only thing that matters, in the end, was their performance which was nuts! Nothing beats passing around blunts and rocking your head to some old school rap.

The people who make a festival happen really do grind it out. I see most of them working not  top during the festival hours and then party very hard into the morning. It is a tough lifestyle to maintain homeostasis in and applaud anyone who can keep that lifestyle afloat.

One thing that I was much more observant at this festival was how many people were high, and no not just stoned high but high on uppers, downers, laughers, screamers and more. Why here? Why have music festivals become the place, where youth and young adults of the past 50 years, have come to take a momentary check out from the world to get high and dance? Or are they taking part because some part of laugh is not reaching an internal need of theirs or is this a simple pause to the lunacy that is reality? I’d like to believe it is the latter and not in the quest to get high because music festivals are also a staple of free expression. You have the opportunity when entering one of these places to letyour persona known as you melt away and take on a new persona to your liking. Festival goers get into costume and take to the grounds with amazing energy and vibrations. The best part is just like everything that we know it must come to an end and come Sunday night or early Monday morning the festival grounds empty and people return.

Festivals normally get a negative connotation for being exactly “those” place. Places where people go to get high, and overdose, because they do not want to face the perils of the real world. But festivals are much more than that; from strangers walking up and giving hugs to each other or sharing supplies, to makeshift cities being erected in the middle of nowhere only to be destroyed it seems by wave and pulled back to the sea. No footprint and no evidence to actually what happen just the memories of the people who were there.

Renegade Grain

Over the past few years, my health has become a top priority. I have experimented on myself all the different ways to get the most out of my body and complemented that by doing loads of research on which techniques, diets, and tools would best suit me. I have tried loads of supplements, herbs, plants, foods, and beverages on the quest to optimal performance. Not only have I tried loads of nutrients but I have researched and listened to books, essays and podcasts on said quest.

The most recent book I read was one called, “Grain Brain”, by Dr. David Perlmutter. To give you a quick rundown of the book; Dr. D is a neuroscientist, who has been following the role that diet and exercise play in our overall health, not just brain health. Dr. D explains how over the last 50 years, due to diets enshrouded with grains and sugars, there has been a rise in obesity, gluten sensitivity, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD and many degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. He believes that by substituting a high carb diet with a diet high in fat, you will not only see some of these dilapidating conditions dissipate but you will start to notice greater all around health.

Two huge staples that are missing from most American diets are cholesterol and saturated fat. Both of these nutrients are hard to consume when you are eating a high carb low-fat diet. Studies have come to show that people with either high or low cholesterol reading have the same chance of having a heart attack. What most people don’t know: cholesterol is the precursor for the sexual hormones estrogen, progestogen, and testosterone. Not only are most Americans trying to limit their intake of cholesterol through diet, but a giant amount of Americans are also taking statins to lower their cholesterol. Lipitor is the number one selling statin on the market. It is sold by Pfizer. Guess what is Pfizer’s number 2 most lucrative pharmaceutical…if you guessed Viagra then, “That is correct!”

Imagine that!

The best way to explain all of this is inflammation. According to Google, inflammation is described as, “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.” Once we identify inflammation, it must be treated and acted on in order to not only heal the injury but also to prevent further injury. However, it is even harder to tell when internal organs become inflamed. The first organ that becomes inflamed is the pancreas. High carbohydrate foods spike your glycemic index. Depending on how high or low the food is on the glycemic index, that will determine how much insulin your pancreas will need to pump out in order to process all those carbs which are now being converted into sugars.

Now, someone on a normal diet isn’t necessarily going to notice this; over time with an excess amount of insulin in your body, your liver will begin to become sensitive to all the insulin in the body and begin to horde glucose. Once there is an excess of glucose in the liver and storage is empty the liver begins to bundle the glucose together as glycogen and store it as fat throughout the body. This is the harmful fat that gets bundled and stored in your waste, on your legs, and in your butt.

So now the liver has become inflamed because it is overrun with glucose. As you can see this is a downward spiral with one part of body compensating for another. It starts gradually and over time it can lead to many of the dilapidating conditions mentioned above.

I love bread and I used to try and eat some with every single meal. I loved the way it complimented any meat I had in a dish, you could always catch me making a sandwich. Over the past few years, I had several injuries that seriously inflamed muscles, disks, and joints up and down my neck and spine. I started switching up the foods I ate adding much more fruits and vegetables in my diet. Trying to limit the amount of oily and greasy foods in my diet but I still experienced crippling spasms and inflammation in my neck and back. It wasn’t until I began cutting out bread grain and complex carbs out of my diet until I noticed a staggering difference. The pain is gone! I haven’t had back or neck spasms in months and I am now lifting weights I never l lifted before with no end in sight.

And listen, I know it’s not easy to give up these foods. As I said before bread was my staple! If I knew I was playing in a basketball game or if I was lifting legs the next day I assumed I needed to put down a box of pasta to carb load for the upcoming game. After I used to boil the pasta I’d throw it into a sauté pan with some garlic, butter, salt, and pepper. I urge anyone who is still eating pasta regularly to try this recipe and tell me if it is still god’s gift.

No matter whom you are, athlete, banker, poker player, writer, or teacher you seek to be the best at whatever it is you strive to be. Over time, through countless different experiences, start to figure out how you get the most out of yourself. “After I eat a lot of pasta I feel really heavy and lethargic”, so you begin to research what goes on in your body that causes this feeling. After some more research, you decide to get some tests done with your physician and you find out not that you’re gluten intolerant, but gluten insensitive. Every time you eat that pasta your body is having a reaction that is impairing you from being all that you can be. I'm not saying don’t eat pasta. I’m not saying cut something out completely because life is all about balance. All I'm saying is, do your homework. Do homework on you! Gain a better understanding of who you are and what allows you to work best. I can’t believe I’m going to use this quote here but I think it falls in line perfectly with my point, “We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.” Notorious B.I.G.

It's All In Your Head

I am walking on sunshine right now with the completion of the first podcast. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the rush that came over me when I saw it ready for download in the Itunes store. By completing this podcast I have completed the first step for my, Save The Deena, trip. 

I'm loving the reviews and criticisms so far so please keep them coming. I started from the lower than low on this one so seriously bring the criticism no matter how harsh it may it sound. This is my own journey and I realize I can't compare it to anyone else's. It is the only way to maintain its uniqueness.

I’m not normally one for boasting. To be honest I don’t take compliments or gifts well. And I'm one of the harshest judges when it comes to scolding me but, this is something I can go into a corner a pat myself on the back for. I’m well aware that I'm not the only one who can be too hard on themselves. It's awakening to watch someone practice the same traits or characteristics as you and wonder, “Am I that bad? Do I get that down on myself like that person does?”

I recently worked on an exercise before I got this very chipper feeling. I actually got the idea from another podcast to write down all my fears. Taking the 10 minutes of my day to fill out an entire sheet of paper with all my fears forced me to be very honest with myself. Sometimes that is the most difficult person, to be honest with. Going through fear by fear conjured up even more fears I didn’t think were real. Now once you finished this exercise the next step is to destroy the paper however you would like to. You can burn it, tear it up, shred it, or use it for toilet paper. Whichever way is best for you to prove to yourself that all these words on papers are, are your fears. These fears are no one else's but yours. And with whichever way you choose to destroy that piece of paper you are proving to yourself that just as easy as these fears can pop up into your head they can just as easily be destroyed by the person who created them.

Wishing everyone out there a  smooth rest of their week. Be on the look out for more, OnThe Bus Podcast, and as always the bus must go on. 

Know Your Colors

I began writing about my trip and was documenting the day to day and what I thought about each location but to be honest it was so boring and miserable. Not just miserable for me but for you the reader. I decided to just to cover a few stories that I think would much rather intrigue you the readers. Because don’t we all just want to form opinions rather than here someone else’s.

I was beyond excited to finally be in Jerusalem! This is it! The place humans have fought and died for five millennium and I was in the heart of it! I was able to sneak away from the tour group on a Shabbat and do a bit of exploring on my own. I was limited on time and was blindly going after as many Muslim and Christian sites I could possibly see. I started off in the Church of The Holy Sepulcher and was shocked to see how many pilgrims were there. I wasn’t shocked however to find out how many people believed the world was going to end; quoting word for word not just from the Book of Revelations and from the Book of Daniel as well. This one pastor from Kentucky would not stop trying to convince me about at this passage in the Book of Daniel explaining how a people from the North will come down and destroy Israel. Apparently when Daniel spoke of the people from the north he meant Russia having a strong military presence in Syria and he forgot that the year would be 5776. Yes, not 2016! The Jews have their own calendar. This is the last place I wanted to show any disrespect especially in the presence of such devout believers. I could have been thrown on a cross and ran down the Via Delarosa for all I knew. 

After spending way too much time and realizing I really only had time for one more stop I decided to head to the Dome of the Rock, also known as the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is split up into four quarters and as you guessed the Church was in the Christian quarter.  As I was headed toward the Arab quarter, a gentleman came up to me and began dressing my head in a keffiyeh. I knew the gentleman had intentions to sell me this garment but it was a pretty well put together garment. I was able to haggle it away from him for $10 US dollars. I thought, “Dammit Brandon you are heading to one of the holiest sites in Islam and now you have dressed the part. They are going to gladly let you up there with open arms.” 

I continued on into the Arab quarter with my keffiyeh and I made it to one of the entrances to the Temple Mount.  The IDF soldiers there spoke to me in Arabic so I spoke back in Arabic. Now my Arabic is shit and I’m only good for about 3-5 exchanges. After those 3-5 I told the guard, “We can speak English now I don’t know any more Arabic.” They found it somewhat amusing and then proceeded to ask, “If I was a Muslim?” I replied not today guys I’m on Team Human. Now they were getting annoyed and with an urgent tone that this is an entrance for Muslim’s only and you do not want to enter here and let them catch you. So once again I was diverted back from which I came. 
Time was almost out and I had to get back to the hotel of course while rocking my keffiyeh. After I left the Old Jerusalem I was going to be entering all Jewish neighborhoods. It was Shabbat so many families were outside spending the day together. As I got more inside the Jewish neighborhoods the staring began to grow. I remember several individuals and entire families changing sides of the sidewalk on me, and at the time I really didn’t have a clue why. One gentleman even shielded his family behind him and threw up his two fingers in the international sign for peace. I wished him a nice Shabbat Shalom and remarked about how great of a Sabbath it was, but he hurried his family the opposite direction. I still couldn’t put my finger on what about I was scaring the daylights out of the people. I have been told before that I could be too friendly so I just assumed it was that. I didn’t receive any more stairs or scares the rest of the trip and brushed the incidents off like nothing ever happened. 

When I visited Jerusalem for the 2nd time I got into a cab with a woman who was showing a buddy and me around Jerusalem. She chuckled at me and asked first, “If I knew what I was wearing?” She explained, “That I don’t care that you are wearing it I just hope that you know what it stood for.” Here it was! I was going to find out what was causing such a ruckus to all of these people. “Brandon there are many different colors to a keffiyeh”, I interrupted her and I told her yes yes I know people in different countries where different designs, now why is mine so different? Well, the one you are sporting is the keffiyeh that is worn by Hamas, the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. I wouldn’t say it was a feeling  of, “oh my god my life could have been in angered this entire time” feeling that came over me but more of a feeling that I am RETARDED! 

I have a bit more compassion for my parents now who think I am insane. Not just insane because I am willing to travel to hostile locations but compassion because I know how much they love me and that the nonsense I get into sometimes can worry them. It's really one of those I understand but I don't understand moments. Does this mean I am going to stop, though? Hell NO!


Northwestern Israel: Golan Heights, Galilee, and Tzfat

After just under 10 hours or as the flight attendant said in his broken English, “10 hours minus 10 minutes”, and I was back in Israel. Although I had been to Israel twice before I never felt that shock and awe when visiting a distant land. I always feel at home and as my family would like to describe it as way too comfortable. I got on the bus with the tour group and we headed up towards Afik in the Golan Heights where we would be staying in a Kibbutz.

My idea of a Kibbutz was a little more rugged compared to the place we actually stayed. The place we stayed, Kibbutz Afik, reminded me much more of a resort, with dining halls, a pool and a bar. Being a resort esque kibbutz the food was always solid which made eating clean here easy.

                            Kibbutz Afik: Not your ordinary Kibbutz

                            Kibbutz Afik: Not your ordinary Kibbutz

After a few getting to know you games and pleasantries we were excused for the evening. Being an adventurous night owl I wasn’t keen with sitting around the rooms watching other smoke cigarettes and chatting. I began exploring the premises and came across a group of guys having some drinks. They invited me over and shared some of their vodka with me. These guys called themselves Druze and I had never heard of anyone call themselves by this before. Apparently the Druze are an ethnoreligious, Arab speaking, group that have lived in the Levant for over a thousand years. We had some great times but after the foul breath, conversation that turned into shouting and language barrier I decided to retire back to my room.

First morning in Israel and low and behold I was up at 6 am putting together a meditation and a light workout. Not to blow smoke up my ass but I’ve never been a morning person and that fact that I was able to do this first day of travels was big for me. It really helped set the tone for the rest of my trip. I really felt that although this was a break from my normal routine, getting that hour of mindfulness and exercise really helped to shape my day. It does also help when you have MCT powder for you coffee every morning.

We took the bus out for a very scenic drive around the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. We proceeded to hike in and around the Hazbani River. There were much more water hikes then I had planned for and my Chuck Taylor’s prevailed every single time. After the hike we came to a kayak center where we rented kayaks and headed down the Jordan River. They asked us to abide by one rule and that was to have at least one male participant in the canoe because the current was strong. I initially thought this is just a backwards saying for the region and they want to keep us in big groups. However once we took off and I saw how little of paddling was needed and the amount of Arab man there were I soon understood the concerns of the tour coordinators. It was the last day of Eid and many Arabs were out celebrating the end of the holidays. The river was very vibrant and swollen with people of all ages.              

I was in a canoe with Jess, one of the coordinators, and Natalie a participant of the trip. I didn’t pick up on the real meaning of the rule until I jumped out of the canoe to swim for a while in the river. As soon as I got out of the raft, three guys tried to jump in the canoe with only two ladies inside. I jumped back in the raft and was able to keep two of the three guys from jumping into the raft. In by no means was this a negative confrontation. I simply explained with my very limited Arabic, “Khallas”, and our new friend, Ahmed, actually accompanied us for the rest of the ride down the river.

Now it was off to the DMZ between Israel and Syria. We went up to very high ridge with many surrounding military bases. Days before our arrival there were several mortars fired over from Syria, however these were not fired by the Syrian Government but rebels who had taken control of much of the borderland with Israel. We heard several loud explosions during our visit but I attributed that to IDF war games and not mortars or missiles.

Up here on the ridge the head tour guide Itia explained the history of the area and how it came into the hands of Israel. From the initial occupation by Israel in 1967 to 1973 when the Syrians took back a bit more land in the Yom Kippur War. After explaining the history, Itia asked us to notice the difference in vegetation lines. Israel’s side of the border was much greener and there were not just plenty of land being farmed but green houses as well. As you may have noticed Israel really prides itself on its drip irrigation system. I asked Itia, “’If maybe it had something to do with a Civil War going on the other side of the imaginary line or maybe that $3.8 billion dollars a year in defense funding , from the US, could play a role in a country having prosperous farm land or not? Because it had to divert fewer funds towards defense.” Itia went on about it the funding not being that much money but also how it is the responsibility of the leader of said country to make sure that to look after the best interest of its people.

                                   Once a machine gun turret in the Golan Heights 

                                   Once a machine gun turret in the Golan Heights 

The thing I did enjoy about this tour was the lectures and discussions. That night back on the Kibbutz the program brought in Israeli-British journalist to give us some insight on the geo-political situation in and around Israel today. There was heavy emphasis on the Israel and Palestine question. The lecture was great and I realized there was a lot I didn’t know and it seems that because this has been a process in the making for almost 50 years both sides are becoming very weary that an agreement will be reached.

The rest of the night consisted of some drinks at the bar drinks with the Druze and hanging out with other members of the tour. I really connected with a lot of the members of the tour that evening whether it was through pool or trolling.

                          A view from outside the Rabbi Amichai's office in Tsfat

                          A view from outside the Rabbi Amichai's office in Tsfat

5:55 a.m. and right back to the mat for some meditation however today I had a few others join me. It’s great seeing your positivity and good habits rub off on others. It’s even greater when people are commenting on your positive energy and smiles early in the morning. There was no coincidence then that we were headed to the holy mystical city of Tzfat where mysticism, Talmud, and kabbalah studies have taken place for over a millennium. Our first stop in the city was a sit down with Rabbi Amichai Cohen to get a deeper insight on Kabbalah.  The Rabbi got deep and I was truly impressed with the layers of life, science, religion, and spirituality he covered in his talk. I was so impressed that I diverged from the group on several occasions while in Tzfat in order to have a more in depth conversation with the Rabbi.

                                                 Me and Rabbi Amichai

                                                 Me and Rabbi Amichai

The rest of the day was attributed to art scene in Tzfat. We visited the studio of artist David Friedman and got to view all of his psychedelic, sacred geometry pieces. I ended up even buying one for a friend back home. The reason I know its psychedelic is because I asked David, “Which kind of hallucinogenic he takes?” and just as I suspected it was LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.

David Friedman's artwork

David Friedman's artwork

Now the artwork that didn’t need any psychedelics to be ingested to make because the text says it’s all was the biblical candles. Some pretty accurate descriptions of different Old Testament story’s like Noah’s Ark, with Winnie the Pooh and the Madagascar Penguins on board, as mentioned in the Bible, Sampson killing several Philistines with his bare hands and David decapitating Goliath.

                                                    Biblical candle pieces

                                                    Biblical candle pieces

The rest of the day was to grab lunch and wander around the streets of Tzfat to grab lunch and to take in the amazing location and architecture of this holy city. We eventually headed out to Tel Aviv where we spent the night at residence in Jaffa.



No, no, no the evening didn’t end just like that. Not on the road with Brandon. We headed up to the rooftop after dinner and bought about I’d say 30 beers to split amongst the 8 to 10 of us who were still drinking. Everything was kosher, or halal, until one of my friends on the trip started having a seizure. Luckily my buddy Max was an EMT and he was able to be with our friend through the entire seizure. This wasn’t just a shock to us but to our friend as well. He is a very healthy individual and never had a history of seizures ever. He spent the night in the hospital, was released, and was still able to join the rest of the trip. He’s doing so well that I received a snapchat of him on the toilet this morning.

9/9-9/11 NYC

The Taglit Birthright program provides you with airfare to and from NYC to Tel Aviv so it is on you to get yourself from your starting point to NYC and back. From my prior post you are aware that I was flying out on Sunday 9/11. I didn’t have any work set up for Friday or Saturday so I decided to head up to NYC early and enjoy the weekend. First off let me shout out all my family and friends in NYC. Every time I visit, I am treated like a king with amazing hospitality and appreciate all the love you always provide me. So much love in fact that it almost made me forget about my delta flight to NYC which had no A/C in my entire row. The plane was cool just not the row where I was seated. After I got situated at my buddy's apartment I grabbed some sushi ate some edibles with a friend of mine and we proceeded to wonder around the seated aimlessly, dropping by a house party and meeting friends in the east village for a round or two.

Because I consumed so many edibles I didn’t wake up until 2 pm the next day. I managed to still get to the gym in the apartment building I was staying at and I got a solid workout in. After that I met up with my friend Nolan, Monique and few other characters and we headed to Space NY to see Fehrplay spin. This was my first time at Space NY and I think I’ve been to every Space night club in the world besides Space Moscow. And no I am not proud of that at all. The crowd was perfect size for the rooftop area however Fehrplay started the party by himself too early and was passed out. He finally came on at 7 pm and played until 10.

After Space we headed back to Nolan’s place for a second pregame this time a pregame to go out for the evening. Monique and I decided to bail and eventually we split up. I met up with my buddy Marc and we grabbed a few slices of pizza. We caught up, talking extensively about my blog and about playing basketball the next morning.

At the basketball game the next day I’ll be honest I was a bit nervous. I hadn’t hooped for 3-4 months let alone really get some solid running in. Although I was very rusty I had a great time playing with Nolan and Marc.

I still had plenty of time in my flight so I proceeded to finish the prep for all the snacks I was looking to bring with me to Israel. This was the first time I had taken a serious account of bringing my own food for an extended trip. I stopped at a GNC to get a shaker and some quest bars. As well as Whole Foods for some cheese, sausage, nuts, and bone broth. Below is a picture of the things mentioned and other snacks I brought with me. You can buy all of these things in the product section of my blog. I also have a link provided below as well as a portal at the bottom of the page for Organifi Green Juice. Use promo code BUSDRIVER for a 15% discount off your order. A majority of these snacks are high fat and low carb. They came in handy whenever I was hungry or to provide a staple for my diet I may have not been able to acquire that day.

Being the 15th anniversary of 9/11 the city, or at least the part of Manhattan I was hanging out in didn't seem that tense or uptight. The people I ran into were out and about going about their usual Sunday. However there was a moment when I heard a more then one fire truck or ambulance I thought to myself, "Here we go again!"

I didn't really have much connection to the incident besides the attack being an attack on American and me being an American. Yet I still don't think I can recall the way things were before that day 15 years ago. I've lived in places like Kuwait and Israel where the threat of an incident is always prominent. It seems that the normal barriers, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, can't keep us isolated from the violence and confrontation that normally only effect a certain part of our planet. Jet fly overs, hightened security, cameras on every street corner all in the pursuit to keep us safe. Safe from what though? I don't think that question is examined enough and until then we will continue to be disconnected from who the people we see and call our enemies.

Now I had not met anyone on the trip before I got to the airport. I had spoken with Yoav, one of the coordinators but nothing else. Because this was a, “group tour” there were many waivers signed even one about not consuming alcohol. I even got to make my own name tag. I connected with a few members of the group at a Buffalo Wild Wings at the airport before the flights and watch Sunday Night Football.

I found my seat on the plane was bottle necked in the middle seat between Zoey and Dave. You can imagine not one second of sleep occurred on this flight. Yet I was hopeful for my third visit to the land of Israel.  

Kuwait Reflection

Kuwait Reflection

It’s over! I never thought I would be expressing these feelings with a bit of dismay, sadness, and nostalgia. Kuwait is a place I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would have ever ended up. Yet all it took was an email about basketball to get me there. The place grew on me though and its a place I know I can always call home. I made friendships and connections that I know won’t end with me leaving.