Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Out in Madrid!

Well that was different.

If you are a frequent traveler, like me, you might long, at times, for an "authentic experience" when in a foreign country--something off the beaten path of the normal tourist route. You might even hope to pass as a native, rather than just another slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, Fodor-toting American. This is understandable. But now that I have paved the way on at least one authentic experience in a foreign country, let me publicly state that it's really not all it's cracked up to be. Yes, two days ago I got to take a ride in an ambulance in Madrid and check in to a hospital, after passing out on the floor of the Prado museum, and after enduring all of that, I'm going to go ahead and strongly recommend that you just stick with the tourist tour. Trust me on this one.

In retrospect, it's funny how much the body and brain try to warn you in advance. Why we don't listen, I do not know. But consider it a New Year's Resolution that I will be doing that more in 2010.

New Year's Day in San Lorenzo de El Escorial was spent in much the same way as New Year's Eve was: Eating (a LOT) and drinking (alcohol). On the eating part, there's no two ways around it: I pigged out. As did everyone. The food here is phenomenal--especially if you are a carnivore. So even though I was still full from our New Year's Eve feast, on New Year's Day we had yet another feast, which went on, in true European style, for hours.

This was accompanied, as of course it should be, by booze. I am not a very good drinker. I'm a lightweight, and I honestly don't really enjoy it all that much, other than beer---and even then, if I order a second pint it's a somewhat rare occasion (needing to get on a motorcycle afterwards contributes to this, but even at home, not driving or riding, I'll only ever have one.) I do enjoy wine quite a bit, which is a requisite if you are going to marry a French person, but, I don't know my 50 year old vintage Cabernets from my 2009 Boone's Farm. That's one of those Life Projects I have yet to attend to. And hard liquor? Forget it. It sure looks great in the movies when tough guys pound down shots of whiskey, but, sadly, that is not the lifestyle for me. And yet, it was New Years Day. And we were eating a ton. So, really, the red wine, white wine, champagne, and whatever that hard liquor was at the end did not make any of us actually "drunk". And I poured less, and stopped earlier, than any of the other adults anyway, knowing my limits. Still, there was way more alcohol than usual in my body, and guess how much water it was all accompanied by? Zero. Not one glass, not one drop, either during the meal, or the rest of the night before falling asleep (sober) hours later.

The next morning, we got up to go to the Prado. Whether the subsequent incident was entirely alcohol related is, in fact, not entirely clear. Two other people--our friend Belen, who has been hosting us and cooked the fabulous feast, and her 8-year-old son David---both were feeling queasy, and it's certain that David did not have any booze, at least that we saw. So there's the possibility that there was some kind of virus floating around.

In any event, by the time we were in the car, I clearly was not 100 percent. As we had been doing the entire trip, our party was divided into two cars: The Woman Wagon and The Manmobile (or Der Mensch Machine, in deference to both my and Eric's love of Kraftwerk), due to the large size of our group. The great thing about Der Mensch Machine is that we had the iPod with us, piping through the car stereo speakers. On most drives, this is cranked to something appropriately loud and rockin: Mastodon, Aerosmith, and Primus all were prominent soundtracks to our Spanish voyages. On this morning, however, I asked for something mellow, because I was not feeling too good. Andres Segovia was the music of choice. And because I had woken up feeling a bit queasy, I passed not only on coffee (a true sign that something was wrong with me), but also on any food whatsoever--until The Wife force-fed one lone piece of bread on me.

But we were no more than a few kilometers from home when my brain/body began sending out an urgent message. As we drove out of El Escorial on the highway, I announced to Eric, "Ya know, I'd like to buy a bottle of water before we go to the museum." I personally felt no particular urgency about it--yet--but it definitely was on my mind that I wanted water. Nothing else. Just water. We drove along into Madrid with no further incident, but after parking in the garage near the Prado, I got out of the car and immediately felt lightheaded. I gripped, for a moment, on one of the cement columns in the garage, just to regain my balance. No one noticed, and I didn't comment on it, but at this point I knew something was up and that I needed to do something.

The Woman Wagon arrived moments later, and we walked the two short blocks to the museum, amidst the New Years Day crowd. A gigantic line awaited us at the museum, but being the resourceful, modern humans we are, we had smartly purchased tickets online earlier, and were thus able to go immediately to the Smarter People's Entrance, where there was no waiting. But my situation was rapidly worsening.

It turned out there was a snafu with the online tickets, and so The Wife and I were allowed to enter, while the rest remained outside for a couple minutes while the problem was being cleared up. But no sooner had The Wife and I set foot in the museum (we had been told to "go ahead and get started") than I said I needed to sit down, and that I needed her to find me some water. I sat on a bench, next to some other tourists, and, remembering multiple movie scenes, put my head down almost between my legs, because I vaguely recalled that might help me in some way. It didn't, but it didn't make things worse either.

The Wife came back a few minutes later, with a 7Up, all she could find, and just as the rest of our party was arriving inside. Happy that I had some kind of liquid, at least, I chugged half the can immediately, and got up to join them as we all beelined to Heironymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, not only one of the most famous masterpieces at the Prado, but also, conveniently, one of the paintings located closest to the entrance. As expected, there was a huge mass of humanity clustered around the painting, and I only survived about 30 seconds in that dogpile before having to bail out, without really getting a look at it, because the heat and crush of people was about the last thing my body could take at that point. Instead, I went solo to a couple paintings that had no one around them, and was trying to enjoy them but was now feeling worse than ever.

So I made a quick decision: I needed to sit down. Or even lie down. I needed to tell everyone else to go ahead. I'd catch up. After the rest of our group emerged from the Boschpile, I announced said plan, but, because they were all heading up one floor and they didn't want me to get lost, they said to come up with them and find a bathroom and/or place to sit down up there. I was feeling like this was a mistake. I wanted to sit down RIGHT NOW and not take another step. But I was outnumbered and was rapidly losing energy.

So we walked to the elevator. It felt, to me, like it was taking hours to arrive. I said to The Wife I need to sit down now, I can't wait for this. The doors opened. A mass of people were already inside. We inched our way in. I put my hand on The Wife's shoulder. My head was swimming. I felt myself leaving the scene, rising somewhere above the elevator. The last thing I remember was hearing her call my name. And that was that.

My next conscious moment was right out a movie or TV show. Now I know why they have scenes like that. From a totally black screen, the camera opens on a shot of a whole mass of faces looking down on me, looking concerned. I had no idea where I was. I had been dreaming. I thought I was back home in bed. I only recognize my wife's face. All the others are unfamiliar to me. I feel someone holding my legs up. I can't keep my eyes open. People are talking to me but it sounds as if I'm underwater. I can't really understand what anyone is saying to me. Then it starts coming through: "Can you hear me Jeff?" my wife is asking. I can. I tell her. Yes. I can hear you. I feel the cold on my back now. I'm on the floor. The mass of faces looking down at me: Oh jeez, I'm at the museum. I'm on the floor at the museum, and there is a crowd around me. I can't keep my eyes open and I am freezing. I'm hearing various English phrases "He's American", "he fell on me in the elevator" accompanied by lots of Spanish I can't understand. I'm trying to talk and keep my eyes open but it's a struggle. I realize that everything is completely blurry out of my right eye, and only find out later that my contact lens had popped out when I fell.

As I start to come to, I feel terrible. I mean, emotionally. It's the first conscious thing I really remember: I've ruined the trip to the museum. I've turned this big outing for two families into a personal emergency. I start telling them to go ahead, I'll be fine. I start apologizing. I keep trying to get up, but I'm being held down, gently, by two women now, both doctors who have arrived on the scene--one employed by the museum, another an Italian tourist who stumbled upon the scene of the collapsed American. Her husband handed me a water bottle. I am alternating between feeling better and wanting to sleep. My hands and feet are freezing. The museum doctor has taken my pulse and blood pressure, and my blood pressure is low, but not alarmingly so. I'm feeling like it's starting to pass. Which it kind of is.
The worst of it is all over.

Sensing no further drama--I'm not going to die, or cough up blood, or go into some sort of raving spasm--the attendees begin to disperse. I'm no longer experiencing life as a second-by-second alienated befuddlement. I can start to joke about it. Even though I'm still feeling pretty crappy.

It's just a few more minutes before a wheelchair arrives for me, and I'm taken down a couple floors to the museum's little medical room. It makes you wonder how many public buildings like this have secret built-in medical facilities, filled with all sorts of equipment and beds and stuff. How did they know? I'm glad, in any case, and lay down with my wife at my side, my daughter (who has been crying and scared to death, though I've already begun to reassure her that I'm fine) and friends right outside the room. The doctor says I can stay here for awhile and rest up. They bring me water. It's at this point that the diagnoses begin, and we start going through what might have happened, and why. And among all the adults, it's the first time we really realize that no water has been drunk, combined with the previous night's alcohol, combined with the possibility of a virus, combined with the crush of people at the Bosch painting. Not a particularly promising combination, ya think?

I want my family and friends to now move on and try to enjoy the museum. I'm going to be fine. My wife dutifully insists that she wants to stay to me, for which I am reminded once again why I married her. And just at the point where we think I can probably get up and move on, I have a small relapse: My head begins swimming again, I tell my wife I need to throw up, we hurry me over to a sink, with the doctor, and I kind of almost do. This actually makes me feel a little better, but the doctor has now seen enough. Her prognosis: It's time for me to go to the hospital.

I really don't want to do this. It feels like overkill to me. And I know it's suddenly going to turn a relatively small incident into an ordeal. But, we understand where she's coming from. She's not being Nurse Ratchet here. She's just doing her job. An ambulance is called, the paramedics come, ask me questions that I am helpless to answer, thanks to craptactular public high school Spanish from which I've only retained one single phrase ("Donde esta la casa de Pepe?") that does me no good here, and then soon I am being wheeled through the museum and into the ambulance, once again a cool new exhibit for the tourists to observe. It's The Collapsed American! Today Only! Take your pictures now!

We cruise through the streets of Madrid. There's no windows in the ambulance, so I can't see any sights. I hear the siren going occasionally, which is cool and makes me feel important. I remember I have my Flip videocamera in my pocket, and instantly realize that filming this might make for a cool YouTube video, but I only get about a minute in before The Wife yanks it away with a kind of "are you kidding me?" remark. But, hey, I was a journalist! It's what we're trained to do!

By the time we get to the hospital, the feeling shared by me, The Wife, and Belen, who has accompanied us in the ambulance to help with translation, is that we are approaching overkill. And Belen's worry, shared by the ambulance driver, is that because we are now entering the largest public hospital in Madrid (socialized medicine--it's free! HEY MAYBE WE SHOULD TRY THAT TOO, AMERICA), it's going to take hours to get me settled in, and that this is liable to only make me feel worse, when what I really outta do is just go lie down somewhere. Unfortunately, the paramedics' hands were tied: They can't defy the museum doctor's orders. And, like I said, we understood why she ordered it. But now we just kinda want to get out of here and get me home.

It only takes about 3 minutes before a doctor approaches me in the wheelchair and looks at my chart, takes my pulse and blood pressure, and says that I seem to be okay now, if a bit cold. Belen explains the situation. The doctor looks around the waiting room, which is full, and then down at me, a clearly recovering dumb American, and pretty much agrees. Get this moron home and into bed. She does, graciously, say she wants to do one thing first before actually releasing me: An electrocardiogram, just to be sure. If anything is up with my heart, I'm staying. But otherwise, I'm free to go, and they'll just not type up anything and forget I ever walked in here. No paperwork for them, no day in the hospital for me. Win win.
I pass the electrocardiogram. Hallelujah. We cab back to the museum. I joke that maybe now we can go back inside and I can see the damn museum at last. But, yeah, no. They drive me home. I fall asleep in the car. We get home, they put me in bed, and other than one 1/2 hour revival, in which I stumbled downstairs to watch a game of Risk begin, I proceed to sleep for the next 16 hours, straight.

And that's pretty much The End! Yesterday, the day after this fun event, I was back up, and we had a completely normal, touristy day in the wonderful, walled town of Avila. The only difference for me? I was now carrying around a humongous bottle of Aquarius, which I believe is the Spanish equivalent of Gatorade. I had chugged two full bottles of it before leaving the house, and will drink this entire tank of it before the day ends.

I could have done with that out-of-body experience. More important, I could have done without scaring my loved ones, who got it worse than me. They had to watch me lose consciousness with my eyes open, talking to me and getting no response, my contact lens flopping out of my eye, my face going bloodless. No one should have to experience that.

So listen to me when I tell you, gang: Drink water. Drink it a lot. Keep your dang selves hydrated, for cryin' out loud. It's just basic survival we're talking about here.

But if you do have to collapse in a foreign country, I can say, as an experienced traveler now, that you may not get any finer care than in the Museo Del Prado in Madrid. Museum experience: Unknown. Medical facilities: 5 stars! Highly recommended!

I'll see y'all back in the US real soon.

Hasta luego,

Editor's Note: Two late edits, one for political correctness by my kid, the other for accuracy. "Girl Wagon" is now "Woman Wagon", and Spanish drink now correctly identified as "Aquarius."


Anonymous said...

You're too funny to die man, lol. I fell and broke my leg on some ice outside of a Toby Mac concert, last January,and we all had to go to the hospital instead, so I felt a little bad for ruining the concert, but, hey, you know, I'm the victim here, lol. The surgery went really well, and I have to say that it's because I stayed extra hydrated the 2 years prior. If I kept it still long enough before the surgery, it didn't hurt at all with morphine. Some of the hospital workers were most impressed. Couldn't of gone any better. So yeah, stay extra hydrated for the rest of your life. Good luck, Jeff!

Anonymous said...

Glad your ok. I think all your family and friends will be feeling the same way and seeing the rest of that museum would have been the last thing on their minds.

It's so easy to forget how important water is. I used to be scornful of those trendy young hipsters who are always seen carry a bottle of Evian around with them 24/7 like its some kind of fashion accessory but after reading your blog it kind of makes sense.

Fjornsvavne said...

In such a dramatic situation you still manage to be so entertaining and funny. This is why you really have to take better care of yourself. Who'll otherwise conquer EA and the world?!

Anonymous said...

I have orthostatic hypotension, a condition where you can have a sudden drop in blood pressure in certain situations, and I've passed out dozens of times in all sorts of embarrassing locations. Your description of the experience is spot on. The befuddlement of waking up not knowing where you are or why all these people are looking at you never becomes old hat.

Tim said...

I had a similar close call 2 years ago. I was in Puerto Vallerto (Mexico) with my partner for our first real vacation in a couple years. It had been a beautiful, relaxing 5-day trip.

On our last day, we spent it walking around town on a very hot day. There had been a restaurant we wanted to try and we got there around 2pm hoping for lunch, but they did not open until 5pm. So we decided to skip lunch and wait it out.

We stopped at a corner (outside) bar. I had a couple mojitos. Very hot day.

When the restaurant opened, we sat outside and I kept drinking more alcohol. Started guzzling (plantain) chips and salsa - delicious. Meal came and I gorged myself (something shrimp-y).

Near the end of the meal I was sweating a lot more than usual (which is saying something) and I started feeling very lightheaded. I thought it was just the heat. Then I started feeling cold which is when I knew something was really wrong since it was about 90 degrees outside.

I tried to stay calm so I would not panic my partner. Like you, I suddenly felt all I wanted was water. It took forever for to get that glass of ice water. My partner almost went all Shirley Maclaine in "Terms of Endearment" on the wait staff trying to get them to bring me some water.

I was completely unfamiliar with the experience of passing out. I had never lost consciousness before (except under anesthesia 10 years prior for knee surgery). And, as strange as this may sound to some, I had not vomited in over 15 years. But I felt certain my body was probably going to do one of those two things.

And I was scared, but more than anything I was horrified that I was going to ruin my partner's vacation and saddle him with a very traumatic experience of watching me pass out, not knowing what was wrong with me, having to find medical care for me in a foreign country, and possibly deal with the arlines and hotel to change our travel plans.
This was also one of those rare times where I allowed a moment of pity/anger that homophobic people might make this whole situation more difficult on him/us. I could imagine the questions my partner would face (who are you? are you a relative? you were traveling alone together? which room is your 'friend' in at the hotel?), some possibly in Spanish, which he spoke not a word as he dealt with the restaurant, potentially paramedics, hospital staff, not to mention the airlines, hotel, and potentially our employers if I didn't make the trip the next day!

I told my partner I wanted to go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face. I got up and started to make my way there. It was like I was watching it from above. My field of vision began to narrow as a blackness started closing in from all sides until only a tiny circle remained. I was lightheaded and dizzy and felt fairly sure I was going to pass out, but I did not want to fall.

I somehow made it into the bathroom and closed the door. I turned to where I expected a sink to be anticipating running cold water on my wrists to cool down, but there was no sink in there! (I later learned the sink was outside the bathroom for some strange reason!).

But I must have had just enough water before I got up from the table to keep me conscious. After using the bathroom, I was able to walk back out and find the sink to splash some (lukewarm) water on my face. The combination of those two things made me start to feel better. I sipped some more water before we left and we got a cab back to the hotel where I took a long nap. I was fine later that day, and I was very grateful the situation was not worse.

gunsakimbo said...

Glad you are okay. You should try to stop passing out for 2010.

Macroe said...

Moments like this bring the importance of close friends and family into sharp contrast. Four years ago, on a trip in northern Europe, my dad suffered a respiratory failure in Stockholm. My mom called us home in Mexico and my brothers and I took the earliest flight there. He passed away one week afterward, but I got the chance to be there. I also got the gift of seeing friends from Mexico and Germany come all the way to Sweden to support us at the hospital and it's something I'll never forget.

I don't want to turn this into a melodramatic post, but my point is that having people who love and support you close by is a true blessing. Certainly makes one put the most important things in life in perspective.

Glad you're fine!

Ralph said...

Ouch. In the unlikely event that you want to return to the Prado, there are some other must-sees. Besides Bosch's triptych, check out Goya's Third of May, Goya's clothed/naked lady (the name escapes me), and Las Meninas. Go when it's less crowded, though :)

Ben said...

I feel rather guilty being that my first thought was "Did he make sure no one stole his wallet?"

Glad to hear you're okay Jeff! Good luck to you and yours in this new year!

(Shawn Elliott is going to go to town on this one, given the chance)

joe said...

I know how you feel Jeff. I've passed out 3 times in my life and once was at work. Waking up is the strangest thing as you don't know wtf has just happened. Its funny because every time its happened to me I knew something wasn't right before I went down, just like you talked about. Its so humiliating to go down but in the end everyone is just worried about you

Anonymous said...

This will cheer you up.

Bryan said...

Weird, Aquarius is also in Japan. I think it is made by Coke, but not sold in the US for some strange reason.

Raf said...

Oh you kids and your binge drinking.
Glad you're OK, dude. That minute of ambulance footage needs to somehow find itself on the internet, stat!

Anonymous said...

Almost did the same thing when my 2nd son was born.

Nearly fainted. Felt all sick and dizzy and light-headed.

Doc said it wasn't the sight of the baby popping out though.

She said it was because I hadn't drank anything and had gotten any sleep before I suddenly stood up for the big moment. Happens all the night.

They brought me an orange juice and told me to sit down.

Jonathan Crossley said...

Glad your ok, and I have been in a very similar. I am 6'5, and this has left me with an odd condition were if I sit for a while, and then stand up, and stand still, blood will stop following to my head. The result of this being a faint a few minutes later. Well, this past October I was seeing Josh Radin at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. I had sat down in the balcony area for the starting bands, but for the headliner I moved my way down to the floor space. Then as I'm chatting to the cute girl next to me, my vision suddenly goes, and next thing I know I'v fallen to the floor. Granted I was fine, and after I explained my condition to the manager of the venue, she decided not to call an ambulance. The rest of the concert was great, but the hot chick never talked to me again...

wobbles said...

Pfft. Socialized medicine isn't free. Haven't you ever taken economics 101?

Tristessa said...

Great to hear it was something so simple and not a long term issue you'll have to deal with.

Funny thing about hearing stories like this after the fact - and from the person who experienced it - is that it never sounds scary at all to the listener.

Reminds me of a sequence in a Samuel Delany story I read, where a woman tells of a terrifying fight for survival, then realizes that the people are understanding it as a heroic triumph over adversary - just because they're hearing it from the survivor.

The value is in the way it's told. And your tale is quite entertaining. I especially like the Fodors rating of the museum clinic.

Cheers =)

JB said...

Half way through the story you had me feeling sick. It seemed like a perfect storm of sickness inducing events. Glad to hear you're fine though.

spate said...

I almost fainted once myself. Was trying to take the garbage out, and accidentally cut my finger to the bone on one of those metal tin tear-off things from the top of a mixed nuts container. Took one look at the cut and nearly blacked out.

Oddly, there was very little blood. Can-mates put a bandaid on me. Walked to the hospital alone. Nurse laughed at me. ... Yeah.. Your story's a lot better.

Greg said...

Yup. Hydration is important.
I've always had low blood pressure and as I've gotten older (and not taken as much care of myself as I should... muscle tone slipping and body fat rising) I've noticed episodes where I'll "dial out" if I rise from lying down too quickly. Eventually I actually passed out but no one saw and I recovered so I shook it off and vowed to get more sleep - hard to do when the sudden rises are due to getting up to tend to an infant!

The next time I fainted it was under the same jumping-up-for-kid-after-going-to-bed-too-late circumstances but this time my wife happened to see it and to make matters worse I pitched backwards instead of safely forwards or sideways (onto the bed) and crashed into my night table, tearing the drawer knob right off with my head. I roused a few seconds later with her squealing and wondering why the hell I was on the floor and what the heck was making my head hurt all of a sudden? That one landed me a trip to the doctors office and eventually to a few heart specialists. Thank goodness for socialized medicine!

In the end? A storm of a pre-existing arythmia which isn't too big a deal but causes slightly lowered blood pressure (my wife has always hear the uneven thump and now it makes sense!), poor muscle tone in my legs (your vessels are supposed to constrict as you rise to push blood to your torso) and poor hydration.

I can't do anything about the arythmia but I'm starting to try to regain my tone. Well, not entirely true about the arythmia... there's a few scary options involving muscle damage to the heart to reroute impulses, but I'm saving that for the day when I have a real problem. Water helps.

Keep hydrated folks!

Samit Sarkar said...

Between this and your firefighter story, I have two very different opinions of you.

Seriously, though, I'm glad to hear that it wasn't anything too bad. Have a safe trip back to America!

Anonymous said...

Glad you are doing okay Jeff. Sounds like a scary experience, especially in a country you are just being a tourist in. Although, now you've lived up to the pic on your blog, congrats on being a "fall risk". Is your family making you keep that sign/sticker on while you are out in public now?

Anonymous said...

WOOT! WOOT! Fallrisk went out and did it again - but this time with style, in a museum, right in front of some of the most important paintings in the world!

God that was great reading - this is exactly why we love The Greenspeak.

More of that please!

Jesus, I wish that my life had this much excitement in it. It's not fair.

(Honestly, though, I think you're making it harder on yourself by passing out in a museum like that. I mean, that'll be a difficult one to top?)

But seriously, Green, do us all a favor and go for a doctor's appointment. You need to get things checked out, just to be sure.

The Goose.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've sussed it - you weren't passing out, you were sleeping with style!

Rob said...

You can only take that much culture in one day. Too much cultures = black out.

Glad you're okay Black Dragon.

.. said...

I'm glad you're fine, Jeff. Losing the Black Dragon would be the worst way to begin the new decade!

Anonymous said...

So, in how many countries have you passed out? You missed out on not being admitted to the hospital. You needed the "cáigase riesgo" wristband.

Seriously though, glad you're a-okay.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I'm going to get a glass of water!

Glad you're okay, Jeff.

Phil said...

Wow, glad you're ok, take it easy man.

Anonymous said...

Actually "riesgo de caida" or "riesgo de caer" is more accurate.

don't do it Jeff.

JSD said...

Great narrative Jeff. All that novel writing last month has paid off! I'm glad you were fine. The world will mourn your loss when you leave us, so let's make sure that's not for another 50 years or so. Your poor daughter. My kids were too young when I had my operation though my wife was freaked.

Aquarius was first made in Japan (its main competitor has the rather unappetizing name Pocari Sweat). It's good stuff. I used to drink it all the time when I lived over there. I'm surprised they sell it in Spain.

@Wobbles Yeah, socialized medicine isn't free, but it's a much more effective and efficient and egalitarian way to use healthcare dollars. People use the service earlier and get preventative treatments which are an order of magnitude cheaper than waiting until things are out of hand (like USA). There are no profit-making middle man insurance companies each reinventing the administrative wheel over and over and resulting in an extra surcharge over what gets paid for the actual service. And on and on. It's truly a shame we will never have some form of it here in my lifetime.

JSD said...

Oh, hey Jeff, speaking of Japan. I don't know if you ever heard of these guys: The Blue Hearts. They're pretty much Japan's best punk band. Check them out.

In Japan, everything is for show. When I lived there, I would walk up to biker gangs and ask directions somewhere and they would always politely direct me instead punching me out and robbing me. No matter what they dress up as, underneath everyone is still Japanese. But these guys are the real deal. They get into fights. They spit at the cameras. They perform without pants. And they rock.

Anonymous said...

@JSD - ha, PixelJunk

Anonymous said...

Had the same exact experience with waking up and seeing heads hover over you. Except it was from taking blood and not dehydration. Turns out when you're 5' 5" and 115 lbs. it's a lot harder to maintain your blood pressure after two or three vials are pulled out of you. Hooray for being very small!

Chris said...

Something in common with Lady Gaga?

Anonymous said...

Damn, Jeff, didn't know you came to Spain. And to El Escorial no less!.

Hey, our English may be crap (dubbed movies and not enough English for the kids), but our high schools are far from craptacular. I'd say our education system is way way better than yours, thank you very much. At least I can identify most countries of the world in a map ;)

Well, hope you had fun in your visit, next time give some notice and I'll invite you to some wine!.

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