Welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. This is Mike.
And today we’re talking about the topic of ‘Are you a risk taker?’
Right. Well, we are going to divide this into different segments and the first one that I’d like us to talk about is sports. Speaking of which, Mike, have you ever done any dangerous sports or activities?
Yeah, you know, I have done something that’s quite dangerous. And this is not a major sport, it’s not like soccer or, you know, like baseball or anything like this, but this is considered an extreme sport. Have you heard of the sport called parkour? It’s also called free running.
These days. So this is a sport, you’ve seen this in movie, where kids, they basically jump up and down the buildings, they climb really high, you know, the ceilings. They hang off the edges, you know, of like a 50-storey building. And if they drop, they’re dead essentially.
Now let’s get one thing straight here – I didn’t actually do the sport, what I did is, I followed around these athletes, I was with them and I filmed their jumps, I filmed their climbs, I filmed all their tricks in really really high places.
But still, the fact that you had to do that and I assume that you had to do some training also.
Oh yeah, I mean, if they’re filming in a like a 30-storey abandoned building, well, guess what? You’re going up there with them, you know what I mean? So they taught me how to do some basic climbing up and, what’s more importantly, how to climb down.
Because climbing down is actually a more dangerous part than climbing up. Because you have to remember – a lot of these parkour guys do a lot of these things in abandoned buildings, right? And the reason why they do that in abandoned buildings is because you know legitimate buildings, functional buildings have security guards, right?
Whereas abandoned buildings generally don’t. So basically, if you go into an abandoned building, you have a risk. You know, there are potholes in them, there are cracks, there are old stairways. There is no clear way out. Right? So you have to learn how to climb these places up without the help of stairs or elevators.
You know, at first, it was scary as fuck. It was really… You’re really gonna piss your pants kinda thing. Because you see a pothole, it’s big enough for you to fall through. And you can see that if you fall, there’s no coming back from there, you’re gonna die. It’s 30-40-storeys up. You know what I mean?
Thank you for encouraging me to do that. I’m never gonna do that ever.
So we did this a lot in Sydney and Melbourne. So this is a sport that’s getting more popular amongst the newer teens, the younger teens. So it’s a good sign, right?
Did you have any accidents though?
Some of the other guys did. I saw a couple of guys nearly fall to their deaths.
Nearly, nearly. One did a near cut wall, fell on the railing, but the railing was weak, and the railing started to cave. But then he was able to bounce quickly back away form the railing. We captured this on film. Right? The railing actually collapsing. And if he had fallen through that, pizza.
It must have been really scary.
And the other one – I saw a kid not look where he’s going, nearly fell through a pothole. If he fell through that pothole, that’s 20 stories down. He would’ve died from that.
you know, this is the reason why I don’t want to take any risks at all. As far as sport is concerned. I’m not that much of a risk taker. I mean, I’m more than willing to do other kinds of risks, but not this one, because, well, you never know when accidents happen.
And you know, the scariest part for me is having to undergo a surgery. I’ve never had that in my life, and of course I don’t plan to do that any time soon. So I’m just a little cautious or maybe more cautious than I should be.
Many many traceurs – that’s what you call parkour kids and kids who practice that sport, if you’ve been around long enough, you probably would have had some broken bones and surgeries. And I think the worst was a guy who became quadriplegic.
Because he fell from a fifth story window. Right? So I’d have a rule in that sport – if it’s 3 stories and up it’s dangerous to fatal. You’d be crippled. If you fall from a second story window, it’s not too bad. You might break a bone, you might not. You’d probably get away with it.
But anything from 3-4 stories up is either permanent damage, possibility of, or death. Right? So that’s the kind of rule. So next time, that’s what I learned, next time you are trying to escape a burning building, judge what floor you’re on. Cut your length before you jump.
That’s actually very useful.
Well I got a question for you Ken. Would you do a parachute jump? Or a bungee jumping? Would you try those kinds of sports?
Well, having said what I’ve said earlier, even if I were to be paid with a million dollars, I might give it a second thought. But the truth is I know myself, and I guess definitely I wouldn’t do that. It’s far too scary, far too risky. And the thing is I have fear of heights.
So whenever I’m on a high place, it scares me to death. And just the thought of it makes me, you know, sweat out a lot. And in fact my palms are now sweaty.
You know, let me tell you a story. Okay. So you know, I teach here, at BigApple. And there was one class that I taught, and there was a guy in there. He’s a bit of a risk taker. You could tell. Now he was not a young teen, you know. He was younger than me, he was a man in his thirties.
He told me about this sport that they do here in Novosibirsk. It’s sort of an underground sport. Right? Where they go… You now the power towers? You know, the huge power towers that are like 40-50 meters above ground?
These guys climb these things at nighttime, in the middle of nowhere. They go to the top and they hook themselves with bungee jumping gear. Except in this one the harness is on the chest, not on the legs.
And they jump off these things at nighttime. With no lights, just the moonlight, just on the moonlight. There are actually groups that do that here. Right? You know what I mean?
They’re devils. I wouldn’t do that.
I mean I think it’s pretty, yeah, I mean, but it’s not… All I’m saying is that even in Russia you see a lot of risky sports.
Well, I guess they have the bravado to do that. Well, I guess we’ll move on to another topic here, something to do with appearance. I wonder, have you ever done something dramatically different to your appearance For example, had a very different hairstyle or maybe hair color. Let’s’ begin with that.
You know, it’s interesting because my girlfriend asked me – have you ever had long hair? And I told her that yeah when I was 19, I had a ponytail. Yeah, I actually had one of those when I was 19. And her next question was well, why did you get rid of it?
And then I looked at her and I went – what? Do you remember why you changed your hairstyle 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Do you know what I mean? Like it’s called a lifestyle change, that’s the term in English I told her. Lifestyle change.
So you moved on from that.
Unconscious lifestyle change.
How long did you have it?
Couple of years I think, and then I dumped it. Look, you have to understand that in the warm climate, like California or Sydney, long guy for a guy – it just doesn’t work after a while. It does get how and sweaty. It does get annoying. And then in the middle of the hot…
And the maintenance! I mean you have to shampoo that, brush it.
I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t do any of that. So…
But you kept it for several years?
Yeah, but it was completely unkept. It’s not something that I really focused on. No troubles. It was pretty… It was really done more out of laziness, right? Because when you have a ponytail, you don’t have to style the hair, you don’t have to have it cut.
It’s lazy, it’s cheap, you know. There is a reason why this style was pretty popular in the 90s. I think in the 90s a lot of guys didn’t care about the hairstyle as much as they do today.
You know what? It occurred to me several times of growing my hair longer, but then again I thought, well, I’m too skinny so I don’t think it really suits me. But then again, I still tried some experiments. Well, in my teenage years I tried different colors for my hair.
Red, orange, reddish orange, something of that, you know, tone or color. Because I thought, you know, while you’re still a teenager, you gotta explore. You gotta, you know, experiment with your style, and so I thought I wanted to be different, I wanted to be recognizable.
So that’s what I did with my appearance. But in terms of hairstyles, well, I tried to style it like in a spiky way if you know what I mean, so I used some gel to make my hair kind of stand out.
But it was only for a short time, because you know in my university years I thought if I were going to be a teacher I have to, you know, control myself in a way that I shouldn’t look too crazy. Because, well, when you become a teacher you gotta go to your classroom with you know, with your hair in spikes, or with dyed hair.
I don’t think your students, especially high school students would appreciate that. Maybe parents wouldn’t even take it seriously, so it was just time in my life I guess. But it faded eventually because, you know, we all grow up. We mature.
I guess when I was about 18-19 years old.
So about the same.. Yeah, spiky hair was kind of a thing maybe 15-20 years ago I guess.
You’re revealing to them our age.
So, yeah, it was a thing, sort of anime hair. But today I don’t know if that’s a…
Tattoos… Well, I haven’t got any tattoos, I’ve never been interested in them. Well, for a practical reason. I don’t want police identify me with tattoos, right? It’s very very easy to get IDed and remember by cops if you have tattoos on you.
That’s one of the first things they look for when they look on CCTV footage. You know how in the movies they have like CCTV footage and they can like recognize the face? All that kind of thing? Look, not all cameras can do that. Right? Not all, you know, more than likely…
The CCTV, any CCTV footage of you that’s been recorded is gonna be from a distance, cause there’s kinda a CCTV on every corner first of all. And you know, the people who analyze these things to catch people, right, are generally looking for shapes, the height of the person, what that person is wearing. Any tattoos, noticeable in the limbs. Right? On the limbs. So, it’s a dead giveaway. So, this is one of the reasons I just don’t get tattoos.
You know what? Speaking of tattoos… My association is that if you have a tattoo, you might have committed crimes before. I know it sounds funny, but I associate that with criminals.
That’s where it started, right. I mean like in many countries around the world tattooing was associable with criminals. I mean even in Russia I think it was the same. Right? But that’s all changed now. I mean, I met a guy, he’s interesting, in Sydney.
Roughly about a year and a half ago, maybe two. I was looking for a place to get another piercing, right, in my ear. So I got both my ears pierced. I needed to get another one before I left Sydney. And basically there was a guy in a tattoo shop, he was a Korean fella.
And I said, you know, I didn’t know any Koreans doing this sort of stuff. Especially out here in Sydney. And he goes – well, these days a lot of Koreans get tattoos and piercings. And I said well, I mean, even the girls.
And then he said yeah, it’s a normal thing now. So within a span of what, maybe 15 years, this mentality had shifted. I wasn’t aware of that.
So I guess it’s fashionable for them now, but I don’t know. I’ll never try it.
Okay. So, what do you have against tattoos?
I’m just afraid that, you know, over time I might get tired of it, and then, you know, you’ll have it removed or maybe, yeah, have another tattoo to be placed on top of it. And so I just find it a little too complicated. Besides, you know, I know that I…
I keep changing my mood, so I might one day, but the next day I might want something else, so its better to just avoid it altogether.
What do you call that in English? That’s change… The changeability of moods and stuff. That’s called…
Okay. You might call it flakiness.
You might call it flakiness. So have you ever gotten any tattoos, piercings, whatever? Once you got it, once you had it, did you regret it after?
Well, piercings. Again, I was about 18 or 19, I had two in fact. Just on one ear, cause I thought they looked cool and I wanted to be cool – you know teenagers. Teenagers always want to stand out. So I tried it. It only lasted for a year, but mind you, I’ve really enjoyed it.
I felt that yeah, I’m cool, look at me! Cause my other friends, they also had it. And so I thought it would be cool to be a part of the club.
Right. So, you wanted to be a part of… Remember… I’m not sure if these things are around anymore, maybe they are – remember in the 90s and towards the millennium I supposed, you know, we were kinda big on subcultures?
And then there were kind of the skaters, there were heavy metal kids, the rappers, one of the gangsters. And then there were the artists kids, and the nerds and IT guys and whatnot. Are they still around? Is there a thing called subcultures now? Or is everybody just the same with Instagram? You know, is there the same kind of thing or?
To be very honest with you, I’m not sure that I’m still in touch with what’s out there, since I do consider myself partly old in a way, cause I’m in my mid thirties now.
So I don’t know what’s trend at the moment. So I don’t know if these subcultures still exist. If they do, they probably are in another form.
It’s interesting because, you know, in sort of teaching, you know, we come across quite a lot of teens. Right? There and there. And when I look at teens, they don’t look like they belong to any subculture. There’s no cultural indicator.
There’s no cultural mark. You know, when we were the little kids, you could tell who was the scare. You know, they wore these vans shoes, they were this thick, like thick skater shoes. Or if you had baggy pants with chains around it. You knew it was one of the gangster. Or a drug dealer.
These days, they all look the same. The feel the same. And there’s this sort of cultural mediocrity that goes on at the moment. And they may have come with this feeling that kid now have hobbies and these hobbies differ, but they’re not into subcultures.
Like a tribe, right? And I think people have become less tribal. Perhaps, in this new generation. What’s your thoughts on that?
Well, I don’t know, I just don’t care that much I guess about them. Especially with, you know, with younger generation. Cause I feel like I’m a bit of a grandpa now. Do you mind if we jump to another topic here about relationships?
I’m just interested because you know, do you think you would go out with someone who was much older or maybe much younger than you are?
Yeah, I mean, I’m open to it if the personalities match. I mean, there’s nothing to that. I mean of course, you know, unless… saying this, men will prefer younger women. That’s a fact. And women prefer someone who’s older. There’s an old edge that men like girls, women like men, not boys.
Right? So, there’s that edge to that. Other thing that I’m too usually away from that. But sure, I mean, if you’re dating somebody, who’s, I mean, how much older or a little younger, a little older, what are you talking about?
Okay, the thing is, I wanna know how old can you tolerate. Like, when I say how old – like, 10 years? Or can it be beyond 10 years? Or older/younger, doesn’t matter.
10 years is doable. 10 years is doable.
In my mind, I’m thinking like 20. 20 may not be so workable, may not be so feasible, right. But 10 years – I don’t’ see a problem with that. I’ve already done it.
So there is a limit then as to the age.
Yeah of course. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? So, I mean, for me it’s kinda like… But I don’t see how that’s risky, that is not… In fact, if you’re dating an older woman, that’s not risky. You understand. But that minimizes risk. It’s the younger girls that are more risky. Right? They are the ones that are more flaky.
That’s right. Less mature, they can quickly change their minds about you. So it’ actually more risk to date someone who’s younger. Right. But hey.
But somebody’s older is fine.
But hey, the risk is part of the time. You gotta take it on that.
But then again, they say love conquers all. What do you think of that?
So there are still boundaries.
Look look look look. When you’re kind of younger you think that way, right? As you get older it’s kinda like no. There’s definitely conditions and strategies involved in this. And look, I mean, let me give you a point, so, when I was in high school, I had no choice in doing this, but we had electives in high school. Electives are subjects that’s you choose.
In Australian high school system, the only mandatory subject is actually English. You don’t’ have to do maths, you don’t have to do science, you don’t have to do history if you don’t want to, right. So you get to choose the rest of your subjects, except English, right.
So when I was I think about 16, I was so jot down on pot at the time that I actually didn’t select all me electives.
So I didn’t fill the whole thing. It was supposed to fill up 10 of this, right. But I only filled up 8. So the school, what’s it called, academic advisor or something, like that call me one day. And they say – you haven’t filled your academic hours.
And I said what do you mean? You didn’t fill up all the electives. What are you talking about? And he says well it’s too late anyway, so you’ve got only one choice left. Like, you have no choice.
And that subject… I mean she gave me a piece of paper, take this and go to this room, that’s your first class. I looked at the note and it was written ‘society and culture’, and I went – what the heck is society and culture?
What kind of a goody name is that for a subject? I thought she was gonna give me like woodwork or something. You know, going in a toolshed and work with tools or woods or something. But basically it was sociology.
So they call it society and culture because sociology was too much of a difficult term for teenagers to understand. So I entered into the class and as soon as I entered, there were no boys, it was a girls only class. It was a classroom full of girls.
And they were looking at me like fresh meat! Look at this young boy, look at this young boy go into our class. But it turned out to be my favorite subject. It actually turned out to be… Yeah, because it really explained a lot of what the world was like.
Sociology was a really interesting subject if you wanna study it. Anyway, getting back to the whole topic here. The first class, first day I sat down, the teacher was doing the subject was family. Cause family is a basic unit of a society.
So they need to explain what that meant. The teacher said to the whole class – hands up those who don’t come from divorced families, so whose families are still together, without splitting up.
Do you know how many kids put up their hand?
Out of 30? Out of thirty kids?
Two. Two kids. So, including myself, about 27-28 kids came form divorced families at that age.
I would’ve raised my hand too.
I looked around and for the first time in my life something clicked in my head, right. Even with all the marijuana in my brain, all the THC, I realized there’s something wrong here. There’s something wrong with society here, there’s something wrong with the world.
So what I realized is that maybe this whole moral of romance that love conquers all, that doctrine that was taught to kids, that Cinderella story, right, maybe be fraud. Maybe something is wrong with that logic.
But we’re gonna talk about it in our next episode, something to do with, you know, realizations in life.
Yeah, but I mean, well, you know, we’re talking about family here. We’re talking about sports. So I’m gonna talk about the topic that I know. That I trained in. Do you have any habits that are not good for your health?
I know I’ve got a few, but you start first.
I know that they are bad habits, but then again as they say that bad habits are really hard to break. One of them is, you know, stay up all night. Sometimes I do sleep at 2 am, I know it’s really late, I know it’s not healthy, but then again, it’s a habit.
And well, I’m trying these days to break that very bad habit. That’s one. What else? I guess I don’t eat a lot of vegetables. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that maybe I don’t get a lot of opportunities. Maybe it’s that I don’t like salads, I don’t know.
For some reason. What else. Other bad habits. I eat lots of sweets, but for me it’s okay because I’m skinny. So I feel like I can eat everything and anything. Although sometimes I can eat, how many, three bars of chocolate in one sitting. Can you believe that?
And then I used to drink three to four cups of coffee, I don’t know if that’s unhealthy, but I used to do that.
Yeah, it’s not the best. Well, okay, let’s start with the sleep problem. This is like, you know, in English we call that insomnia.
I think Russians have the equivalent of that word. And people who are, you know, who suffer from this, they’re called insomniacs. Right, with an -ac at the back. Now, this is like one of the biggest, biggest health problems of the modern age. Are you aware of that?
And they have it too, by the way.
I think, most of us have it. So, let’s just define what normal sleeping hours are. So, let’s just go back to prehistory here. So, humans by evolution have been around for about 350 000 years, the homo sapiens.
So you have to understand for most of that time our ancestors have evolved around the movement of the sun. Right?
So this whole world full of electricity which allows us to basically be awake for 24/7, basically, you know what I’m saying. It’s something very new. It’s only like 0.001 percent of our history being able to do this, cause the electricity only became widely available in the last 100 years.
For the most of the world. So, to me, it’s actually more normal to sleep when the sun has come down. So in other words about 7-8 o’clock you should actually be sleeping, right. Well, when does the average person goes to bed these days? Have a guess.
try midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. Try that. So we’re missing all those hours. We’re actually calling against our natural desire.
Yeah, I know. But then again you have to consider the change in lifestyles. We do have some technology, which, you know, back in the day, those ancient people didn’t use to have.
So I guess that influences us. Well, the discovery of electricity, and, you know, with social media nowadays.
Yeah, but what I’m saying is that physiologically we were not built for that. We were not built to stay awake after sundown for hours. Right? Day in, day out, day by day for years. Without something going wrong with our physiology. Yeah if you go against… if you go against natural design, right, something’s gonna go wrong.
So we were meant to be a certain way, we were meant to behave in a certain way. And only in the recent period of our history, human history, we’ve been allowed to do this. Right? And I think that’s gonna have, and it already has, cause I’ve already talked to a psychiatrist about that.
There’s been a lot of research on this right now, cause they’re noticing a huge spike in depression and restlessness in children. The number one culprit is not smoking, it’s not video games, it’s not social media, it’s none of those things.
Actually it’s the fact that they’re sleeping late due to these things. Right? So too many distractions allow us to stay awake day in and day out, day after day.
Let’s clarify that. Is it all about sleeping late or the sleeplessness or the lack of sleep?
It’s the fact that we’re not sleeping early enough.
So we’re basically… And doing it constantly for months and years. It’s doing something to a year that can strain. I’m not a neuroscientists, I can’t explain you what it is, but the research is already out, and pretty much every psychiatrist agrees with it.
You see, we don’t even need to hear it, you know, from psychiatrists, psychologists or whatever, whichever experts there are out there. I’m sure that everybody knows this, but then again, we live in a different society now, and even though we are maybe aware of this,
but the fact is we still try to live our lives the way they are, sleep late, midnight, 1am, 2am, cause, for example, in my case. I am aware of this one, but then again I can’t help it.
It’s too attractive, isn’t it? I think for most people the social media aspect is so big. For me it’s not the social media…
What time do you sleep by the way?
I sleep midnight I’ll admit. It’s due to gaming, it’s purely due to gaming.
It’s gaming and nothing else. If you remove gaming, then that would never happen. I’d be dead by 10-10:30. So it’s just that… Especially in summer, it’s better to game at night when it’s cooler than during the day. Because it’s pretty hot during the day. So yeah, so it’s just sleeping is pushed further and further.
And it does have an effect. But I know for a fact that if you sleep at 10 o’clock, you wake up with much more energy the next day. So the trick is to do this every day. But the problem is that people can’t. There’s too much electricity everywhere. I think that’s the case. So you used to drink coffee 4-5 times a day.
How did you not sweat or get the shakes?
You know, it’s just the matter of getting used to it. But now I have stopped because I have a stomach problem, so I try to drink less or, you know, as much as possible, not at all. I’ve cut it down but every now and then when I feel like drinking I of course give myself at least just a cup or maximum two cups.
You know, I used to know a patient who used to sweat all the time, like sweat all the time. Like, sweat on his palms, right, all the time. Imagine you shake hands with the guy, he’s always sweaty. One of those… Well, guess what helped him to stop sweating? Stop drinking coffee.
Cause coffee was basically stimulating his adrenaline and then it was causing sweating as a result of that. Combined with the hot Sydney weather and then you’ve got one of those cases. But when he stopped drinking coffee, he stopped sweating essentially.
So these chemicals that there are around, they have big impact on our health. And our basic social capabilities. So, yeah, let me ask you a question – you don’t sound like a guy who doesn’t like a lot of risk to me, right? Who likes to minimize risk.
Of course. I don’t wanna die young.
Alright, alright. So when you have traveled here, when you go travelling in general, right, do you take out insurance? Like travel insurance, health insurance, do you do those things? Do you do your homework on that?
Well, the thing is, although I am very cautious in general, but when it comes to insurance, no, I don’t take any. It’s for financial reasons – I just feel like why do I have to pay extra for this? Cause I know I’m gonna be safe anyway. At least in my mind that’s how I think.
I will be. And in most cases, well, not in most cases, but so far for the times that I have travelled abroad, I’ve never encountered any problems or accidents or… I don’t know how long my luck will go on.
But for now I can say that I’m safe and it’s just for me, although I’m not advising our listeners to not, you know, take out any insurance,. Because it’s for their good, but just for me. No, I don’t take out any insurance at all.
I see. I’m always insured. Because you don’t wanna be stranded enough for a country where you don’t speak the language and be stranded essentially. Right? So it’s a very bad situation to be in. And when it happens the only people you can contact are your family and friends, but I can’t. I don’t want to bother them to be honest.
Have you ever used one though?
No, never. But you know what? It’s a peace of mind. And of course when you buy a travel insurance or a health insurance, make sure you read it. Make sure it’s with a reputable company, because there are hundreds out there, they offer…
They’re not going to honor the deal if something goes wrong. And I’ve seen cases like that from other people. So I always make sure that I spend good money with a good company to get the right insurance. So it’s just one of those things, especially if you don’t speak the language.
I have a question though, coming from a person who’s never taken out any insurance. Is it… I mean do you have to pay a huge sum of money for that?
It’s not huge. It’s just a little bit of money, but it offers you a peace of mind. So, that was the show of BigApple podcast. The topic today was are you a risk taker? We really hope you enjoyed the show. And please please please, do leave us a comment or a question.