Before the coma, and after...
It was a nasty car accident and his survival seemed like a miracle
but he had to be in a coma for almost one week. Twenty two-year-old Ben
McMahon was in a terrible car crash in Melbourne that left him battling
for his life.
It was a bizarre twist that occurred when he regained consciousness a
week later - his brain simply decided to switch from English to
When he woke up from the coma instead of English he started speaking
"Most of its hazy, but when I woke up seeing a Chinese nurse, I
thought I was in China," recalled Ben. "It was like a dream. It was
It was like my brain was in one place but my body was in another. I
just started speaking Chinese - they were the first words that left my
According to the Asian nurse who was attending to Ben at the time,
his first words upon waking up were: "Excuse me nurse, I feel really
sore here." He apparently said the whole thing in Mandarin. Then, he
asked for a piece of paper and a pen and wrote on it in Mandarin script:
"I love my mum, I love my dad, I will recover."
Ben's doctors and family were His newfound language skills did come
at a price - Ben does get tired easily and he needs to sleep more. But a
host of opportunities have also opened up for him.
He has conducted Chinese tours of his hometown Melbourne, and he's
now hosting a Mandarin TV program called 'Au My Ga' that explains
Australian culture to Chinese expats.
"They've really welcomed me with open arms," said Ben. "There aren't
too many people that studied the Mandarin language at this level. That
really gives you a lot of force behind yourself to just keep going and
going." Ben also said that he's just really glad he survived and that
he's able to speak a second language.
Although he had learned Mandarin at school and traveled to Beijing
before the accident, he had never really mastered the language.
"I wasn't consciously thinking I was speaking Mandarin, it was what
just came out and it was what was most natural to me," he said.
It actually took a couple of days before he remembered to speak
Giraffe woman's odd obsession
A long neck is a notable sign of beauty and females with long necks
are the envy of most women and the centre of attention of most of the
men I suppose.
But 28-year-old Sydney v. Smith of Los Angeles was inspired by her
lifelong fascination with body modification especially done by the
tribal women of Thailand and Burma, who encase their necks in rings at
an early age.
"I've always had a long neck," said Sydney. "In middle school, they
called me 'giraffe girl'. Then I saw pictures of the long-necked tribes
in Thailand and Burma in National Geographic and I became fascinated
That's when she began to cut up coat hangers and wrap them around her
neck at bed time. Naturally, her parents thought the idea was
ridiculous. But she persisted, and she believes that her night-time
ritual actually helped elongate her neck.
"After a few years, it became obvious that my neck was longer than
the other girls, but not freakishly," said Sydney. "So I stopped for a
while to consider if being a long-necked woman was what I really
wanted." But soon, it became clear to her that she was quite attached to
"I had missed the comfort from the pressure on the top of my neck and
shoulders and had been thinking about doing it again for a while. The
comfort and exhilaration of this process was really what I was after."
So in 2011, Sydney started wearing a tight-fitting copper necklace
made specifically to her requirements.
She took it slow and added an extra ring when she needed it. But
she's always been rather shy about displaying her neck rings.
When she lived in Maryland, she used to wear thick turtleneck
sweaters to hide them. She also chose restaurant jobs behind the scenes
to avoid unwanted attention. Soon, Sydney's neck muscles couldn't
support the weight of her head without the rings. At this point, she
needed to make a decision - to wear the rings forever or get rid of
"I asked myself, 'Should I stop or should I go for it?' knowing that
I would be enslaved to a ringed necklace for the rest of my life," she
said. But after attending a Lady Gaga concert, Sydney was finally able
to decide. "Her freak empowerment message made a special kind of sense
for me. I figure if she can wear meat dresses, I can be a giraffe
The rings that Sydney wears were customized by a friend. They are
soldered around her neck, but feature a special screw so they can be
detached in case of medical emergencies. But as far as she's concerned,
they are permanently attached.
"He managed to do it safely, though I did get burned a little," she
said. She estimates that her neck might be 10 to 11 inches long, thanks
to the elongating effect of the rings.
Although there are complications regarding health issues nothing's
stopping Sydney - she's actually contemplating adding a 12th ring. She
also hopes to make some money out of her unique physique. "I'd like to
work as a specialty model, but my original intent was not to exploit
myself," she said. "However, it seems to be my calling."
If you're too proud to apologise, assign an agency to do the job
When you have done something wrong to someone it is with the greatest
difficulty you tend to say 'sorry." Most people would like to avoid it
entirely if possible. But there is an easy way out and save your pride.
Only issue is that you have to be in Japan.
Representative of an apology agency saying “sorry”
In Japan there are these "apology agencies" through which you would
be able to pay someone to say sorry on your behalf.
It can be seen why these businesses are so successful - it's really
tough to face the person you've wronged and tell them that you're sorry.
It's a highly uncomfortable situation, especially if you've made someone
angry or hurt their feelings.
By hiring an expert, not only do you get to avoid the discomfort, you
also make sure that the person gets a proper apology. These people are
professionals, and it looks like they can get you out of all sorts of
For example, they may send a person pretending to be your parent or
friend to break up with a clingy lover. Or they may call your workplace
pretending to be your wife and tell them you're sick, on those days when
you'd rather not go into to work.
Anyhow, these businesses are doing pretty well for themselves. About
40 percent of their customer base is believed to be female, between the
ages of 20 and 40 years. Some of the most popular reasons for
approaching apology agencies are problems with money or love.
Prices vary depending on the nature of apology required. The Shazaiya
Aiga Pro Agency charges 25,000 yen ($240) for a face-to-face apology,
and 10,000 yen ($96) for an email or phone apology. Nihon Shazai
Daikokao, on the other hand, charges 3,500 yen ($33) per hour.