Apr 8, 2007

Man Completes 3,272-Mile Amazon Swim

Amazon Swim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) - After 3,272 miles of exhaustion, sunburn, delirium and piranhas, a 52- year-old Slovenian successfully completed a swim down the Amazon River Saturday that could set a world record for distance—something he's already done three times before.

After nine weeks, Martin Strel arrived near the city of Belem, the capital of the jungle state of Para, ending a swim almost as long as the drive from Miami to Seattle. Strel averaged about 50 miles a day since beginning his odyssey at the source of the world's second- longest river in Peru on Feb. 1.

By Thursday evening, he was struggling with dizziness, vertigo, high blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea and delirium, his Web site said. But despite having difficulty standing and being ordered by the doctor not to swim, Strel was obsessed with finishing the course and insisted on night swimming.

"He's hit point zero," Borut Strel, Martin's son and the project coordinator, said by telephone from the Amazon. "There will be a ceremony Sunday in Belem, but he finished today."

Speaking in fluent accented English by satellite phone during a break aboard his support vessel, the elder Strel said that the going got tougher the closer he got to Belem.

"The finish has been the toughest moment so far," he said Thursday. "I've been swimming fewer kilometers as I get closer to the end. The ocean tides have a lot of influence on the river's currents and sometimes they are so strong that I am pushed backward."

He said he was lucky to have escaped encounters with piranhas, the dreaded toothpick fish, which swims into body orifices to suck blood, and even bull sharks that swim in shallow waters and can live for a while in fresh water.

"I think the animals have just accepted me," he said. "I've been swimming with them for such a long time that they must think I'm one of them now. I still have dolphins swimming with me."

Cramps, high blood pressure, diarrhea, chronic insomnia, larvae infections, dehydration and abrasions caused by the constant rubbing of his wet suit against his skin frequently tormented him.

Strel, who lost some 26 pounds, said there were times he felt such pain in his arms, chest and legs, "that I could not get out of the water on my own."

To cope with the delirium and other problems, Strel said he turned to his doctor.

"My doctor, who is a psychotherapist, talks to me, asks about my pains and redirects my thinking to other things," Strel said. "It definitely helps to have someone to talk to when I'm not in the water, even though sometimes I fall asleep while she is talking."

Sunburn was Strel's biggest problem in the first half of his adventure.

Just days after he began his swim, Strel developed second-degree burns on his face and forehead, and his team feared the burns would worsen and become infected.

His team fashioned a mask out of a pillow case for protection, but Strel did not use it all the time because it was too hot and made breathing very difficult, he said.

His lips became blistered, and scabs formed on his nose and upper cheeks.

In addition, his eyes became sore and swollen, probably from sunblock getting inside his goggles.

The sunburn became so bad that while still swimming in Peru he thought of quitting, he said.

"I couldn't sleep at night and I thought we would have to stop for a week or so. But with time things improved," he said. "People from all over the world sent us some creams that helped solve the problem and we improved the mask."

If confirmed by Guinness World Records, the Amazon swim will be the fourth time Strel has broken the world record for long-distance swimming.

In 2000, he completed an 1,866-mile swim along the Danube. He broke that record two years later after swimming 2,360 miles down the Mississippi. In 2004 he broke it again by swimming 2,487 miles along the Yangtze river in China.

Strel's Web site said he broke his 2004 record on March 17 when he arrived in the small town of Urucurituba in the state of Amazonas, 2,490 miles from the river's source.

Kate White, a Guinness spokeswoman, said the organization would only confirm if Strel had established a new record after analyzing data from him and his support team, a process that usually takes six to eight weeks.

Strel's staff said they planned to send Guinness all the documents required by the first week in August, at the latest.

Comparing his Amazon adventure with his other record-breaking swim in Europe, the United States and China, Strel said "it was the toughest expedition by far."

"The Amazon river has no barriers like locks, so the current is constantly flowing," he said. "I didn't expect so many whirlpools and so many currents."

Asked about new adventures, he said: "I am not thinking about that right now ... But I'll find some other crazy swim, maybe in a lake or in an ocean."

"I am not going to do the Nile. It's long but not challenging enough, it is just a small creek, he said. "The Amazon is much more mighty."
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Apr 7, 2007

How to Whistle Real Loud

The Five-Fold Path to Finger-Assisted Whistling Mastery
1. Make an “okay” symbol by forming a circle with your index finger and thumb

Whistle Real Loud

2. Lick your lips and open your mouth.

Whistle Real Loud

3. Bring your fingers up to your opened mouth. Place the bottom side tip of your tongue against the okay ring in the area where your thumb and index finger meet. Push firmly against your fingers with your tongue.

Whistle Real Loud

4. Close your lips around the previously formed finger/tongue assembly while leaving a small hole, the blowhole, between your bottom lip and the inside of the “okay” ring. The blowhole is extremely critical. It’s where the big noise is born and the annoyance begins. Every other area around the blowhole must be sealed and airtight. The blowhole can be the only conduit out for your whistle-making air.

Whistle Real Loud

5. Start blowing.

At first, all you’ll hear is a bunch of moving air. The magic happens when you have just the right combination of the following factors:

The tension of your lower lip.
The moisture on your lips and fingers.
The amount of pressure between your tongue and your fingers.
The size of your blowhole.
The volume of air moving through your blowhole.

Since everyone’s anatomy is different, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly what to do at this point. Getting these five things right takes time and practice. Sometimes it happens in an hour, sometimes a couple of days.
Just keep at it and make adjustments until you begin to hear what sounds like an F-18 idling on the deck of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. When you hear that, you’ll know you’re very close. Continue making subtle adjustments and pretty soon a whistle will pop out. The feeling of accomplishment and pride you will feel is indescribable!

With a bit more practice, you’ll be able to keep that whistle going even at maximum air pressure. That’s the beauty of this finger-assisted whistling technique. The more air pressure, the louder the whistle. It won’t be overpowered by excessive blowing.

Again, heed my words of caution. Your new whistle can bring you both attention and respect, or scorn and condemnation, depending on how and when it’s employed. Use your whistle only after you’ve forewarned others, unless your goal is to scare or stun them or to save your own life.

Be careful with your hearing, too. I have to hold back to prevent temporarily deafening myself or passing out from pushing too hard. Unfortunately, my ears are still ringing from shooting the pictures for this my first blog entry.
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Apr 1, 2007

Japanese Set Record for Longest Concert

Longest Concert

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese musicians overcame fatigue and a major earthquake to set the record for the world's longest concert on Saturday, playing 184 hours non-stop in a program that ranged from The Beatles' classics to Japanese traditional harp music.

Over 900 musicians aged 6 to 89 took turns performing in the 9-day marathon _ with breaks of no more than 5 minutes between acts _ at a small railway station in Hikone city, western Japan, according to organizer Kuniko Teramura, 51.

An official from the Guinness Book of World Records was on hand to certify the record at 10 a.m. Saturday, she said.

"The longest concert by multiple artists was achieved by Kuniko Teramura and friends at Toriimoto Station ... from 23-31 March 2007," read a copy of the certificate obtained by The Associated Press.

The previous record for longest concert was set in Canada five years ago and lasted 182 hours, according to the Guinness Web site.

On Sunday, a magnitude 6.9 quake in northwestern Japan jolted the stage _ but didn't stop a determined pianist from ploughing on with her tune, said Hiroshi Mizutani, 51, another organizer.

A break in the performance would have ruined the challenge, because musicians were not allowed to stop playing less than two minutes into a song, said Mizutani, whose Oldies band played three times during the concert.

"This pianist was amazing. The whole place was shaking quite badly but she went right on playing," Mizutani said. "Even an earthquake couldn't stop us."
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