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In the Beginning: The Countdown Begins!

51yai+MKH5L._AA240_.jpgWith just 15 Days till our new In the Beginning book comes out, we figured we'd start excerpting bits from it. The book covers the origins of everything, from big hair to the big bang, and today we're sharing the story of bungee jumping. Enjoy!

BUNGEE JUMPING

Talk about a serious leap of faith: the first land divers plunged head first toward hard soil, all in the name of agriculture.

The Jump and Grind

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too? Chances are, if you're a Vanuatan male and hoping for a really spectacular yam crop this year, the answer's yes. Vanuatu, an archipelago in the Southern Pacific perhaps best known for its starring role in 2004's Survivor: Vanuatu, also has another claim to fame. Its Pentecost Island is the home of a death-defying religious ceremony known as naghol (a.k.a. land diving) that inspired modern-day bungee jumping.
Picture 6.png To be fair, land divers don't really jump off cliffs. Instead, they construct 75-foot-tall wooden towers in their village centers, tilling the ground below the towers by removing any rocks or debris. Then, they tie long, elastic vines around their ankles. And then, on one or two days in late spring, they jump. The islanders believe that as the men's hair brushes against the ground at the nadir of their fall, it fertilizes the soil and helps ensure a bountiful yam crop.

Naghol is also a great excuse for village-wide parties; as the men line up to dive, crowds dance and sing below. Before they jump, they raise their arms in a signal that silences the cheering throng, and "“ as if acknowledging that their next act may be their last "“ they reveal their most private thoughts. Then they clap their hands, cross their arms in a corpse pose, and take the plunge. At the bottom, assuming the diver survives, male relatives untie his ankles and flip him right-side up, to the cheers of adoring crowds. (We'd like to see the well-coiffed Survivor contestants try that.) When legendary naturalist David Attenborough visited Pentecost Island with a BBC camera crew in 1950, the world got its first glimpse of land diving. Naturally, it was only a matter of years (29, to be exact) before thrill-seeking westerners followed suit.

The West Gets Roped In

Believe it or not, the West's first glimpse of a bungee jump occurred on April Fool's Day, 1979, when onlookers at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, witnessed what appeared to be a suicide. Dressed in a top hat and tails and hugging a bottle of champagne, 33-year-old David Kirke did a back flip off the bridge, 250 feet above the River Avon. To the great surprise of horrified witnesses, Kirke never hit the water; instead, he slowed just before reaching its surface, then began a re-ascent toward the bridge. Whereupon three similarly tuxedoed friends of Kirke "“ members of what they called the "Dangerous Sports Club" "“ made the jump as well.When police arrived the four were hanging from the ends of their homemade elastic ropes. In quick succession they were each arrested, fined £100, and became overnight celebrities. Of course, Kirke didn't exactly stop there. He and his club also tried hang gliding from active volcanoes, BASE jumping and experimented with a human catapult capable of tossing a person 55 feet into the air in just 1.9 seconds. Seriously, kids, don't try this stuff at home (or anywhere, really); that last one figured prominently in a 2002 manslaughter trial.

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Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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11 Timeless Yogi Berra Quotes
Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The great Yogi Berra—a 10-time World Series champion and three-time MVP—was one of baseball's best catchers, but he's remembered just as much for his wit and wisdom as his Hall of Fame career. Here are some of the quotes attributed to Yogi (who was born on May 12, 1925), even if he didn't always say them first.

1. "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours."

2. "The future ain't what it used to be." (Yogi later clarified, saying, "I just meant that times are different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.")

3. "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

4. "It ain't over 'til it's over."

5. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." (See Quote Investigator)

6. "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." (See Quote Investigator)

7. "We have a good time together, even when we're not together."

8. "It's déjà vu all over again." (See Quote Investigator)

9. "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

10. "I really didn't say everything I said."

11. "Then again, I might have said 'em, but you never know."

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Hate Running But Want to Feel Like a Winner? Try a 0.5K Run
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If you’re a non-runner who feels left out by the surging popularity of 5K and half-marathon races, Boerne, Texas has the race for you. Billed as a “running event for the rest of us,” the Boerne 0.5K is exactly what it sounds like: a very, very short race. The unique event, taking place in a town of 10,000 outside of San Antonio, covers just a little more than a third of a mile. And, as Mashable reports, it includes free beer and doughnuts.

The first annual charity event takes place on May 5, 2018 and is a fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack, a Kentucky-based nonprofit that provides weekend meals to hungry children. Designed as a tongue-in-cheek response to typical 5K races, the extra-short run features a coffee and doughnut hydration station, just in case you get hungry midway through the race, and a free beer both before and after you run. “Join your fellow underachievers for a day (actually more like 10 minutes) of glory, celebration and participation trophies to raise money for a great organization,” the race website trumpets.

For a small fee, you can also get all of the trappings of racing without ever lacing up your shoes. For $50, VIPs can get the same swag the racers get, plus get the luxury of being shuttled the full 546 yards in a VW bus.

Understandably, this year’s roster is already full, but since the event’s organizers know that most people interested in the event aren’t necessarily committed to running, you can still get a T-shirt, participation medal, and bumper sticker for $25—no racing involved—here.

[h/t Mashable]

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