Tea Bag

This leather pouch joins me on all my travels. Despite popular belief, it does not hold plant remains of a questionable legality, but instead carries what tea I’m inclined to treat myself to during the current spell of vagrancy. Current contents are kukicha, green tea, and a mix of loose leaf herbal from Mountain Rose – Peppermint, Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Mugwort, Damiana, Rosemary, Rose Petals, and Stevia, if we’re naming names.

Tea Bag

Leave My Keys Alone

Judge rules defendant can’t be forced to divulge PGP passphrase

A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that prosecutors can't force a criminal defendant accused of having illegal images on his hard drive to divulge his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) passphrase. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier ruled that a man charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the Canadian border has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over the passphrase to prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to avoid self-incrimination. Niedermeier tossed out a grand jury's subpoena that directed Sebastien Boucher to provide "any passwords" used with the Alienware laptop. "Compelling Boucher to enter the password forces him to produce evidence that could be used to incriminate him," the judge wrote in an order dated November 29 that went unnoticed until this week. "Producing the password, as if it were a key to a locked container, forces Boucher to produce the contents of his laptop."



Steampunk: a history that wasn’t quite. At once both Victorian and Dystopic. A world filled by brass gears, pin-stripe suits, and a steam powered Deus ex Machina.

I’ve been familiar with steampunk as both a literary spin-off of cyberpunk and as a modding community, but only recently – through SteamPunk Magazine – come into it’s aberration as a subculture.

This third issue of SteamPunk Magazine is my first. I found it to be a most delightful mixture of short-fiction, interviews, tutorials, and rants. My preferred rant was My Machine, My Comrade by a one Prof. Calamity, in which he sees steampunk as “seeking[ing] to liberate the machine from simply existing as an instrument of work, while at the same time not elevating mechanical forms above all else… Steampunk seeks to find a relationship with the world of gears, steel, and steam that allows machines to not only co-inhabit our world but to be partners in our journey.” My favorite fiction was Margaret P. Killjoy’s Yena of Angeline in “Sandstorms by Gaslight” which (very much like mine own fiction) seems to go nowhere. It has no direction, and does not leave its reader with a sense of anything being accomplished, which makes it a disappointing first read. But, again and again, I find my mind wandering back to the world that Killjoy crafted and the characters that inhabit them. Ant that, I think, is some element of praise.

A SteamPunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse is a survival manual of sorts, covering basic aspects of shelter, water, and food. It should provide nothing new to the established crazy and serves as no replacement to In the Wake (or any of the works listed in the Guide’s Appendix B), though features thoughts on reclaiming urban resources that are lacking in other guides. But, like In the Wake, it is available as a free download, thus nullifying any excuse to not peruse the contents and keep it as a handy reference. I purchased it partly to support SteamPunk Magazine, but mostly for Colin Foran’s artwork, which provides a wonderful backdrop to the gritty subject of post-Civilization apocalyptic survival. Beyond comparisons to other manuals for outliving Civilization, my main criticism is that of the style of writing. Writers in the Victorian era were much more liberal than us in their use of capitalization, but there was a system. When I read those works, I feel the capitalization adds a certain emotion to the writing. Being a SteamPunk’s Guide, the author of this work (by happenstance, the same Margaret Killjoy whom I praised above) attempted to duplicate this capitalization, but failed. Whether there was or was not a system, it feels arbitrary, and detracts from the overall work. The Guide does present an attempt to emulate that era’s vocabulary, and I think does a good job of that – combining a sense of Victorian grace with modern punk and a bit of wit, for an agreeable solution of steampunk.

Work Space

I’ve been inspired by the Unclutterer Flickr pool, of late. After discovering an over-due power bill buried under the liter on my desk, I decided it might be time for a cleaning.

One uncovers a number of artifacts from amidst the numerous papers. Writings of Hakim Bey, a copy of the the Canon of the Roman Catholic Mass, WPA attacks, The Laws of Manu, a not-yet-expired Montana fishing license (or “conservation license”, as they would have), crypto algorithm discussions, lockpicking guides, a zine about bikes, a song book for an Ocarina, those fake press badges I got in Bangkok, satellite photos of UPS’ local warehouse (I don’t even remember why I have those)…

Work Space

It still needs work, but the space has improved, and it does a deal of good for the mind.

Camera Obscura

The weekend before last my digital camera failed miserably during an attempted balancing trick on my handlebars: it fell and busted both the lens and the mechanism that opens and closes it. Luckily, it was only a point-and-click Canon PowerShot SD450 – I’ve never been able to afford or justify a dSLR with my infantile skill. (Somebody want to buy me a Nikon D80? I’ll love you long time.) So, I replaced it with a Canon PowerShot SD1000 – basically the upgrade to my old SD450 – which arrived today.

And what image should I snap to test out the new device? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my short time on Flickr, it’s that all the cool kids take pictures of their Moleskine journals. I thought I’d succumb to the meme and join the crowd.

Blank Pages


Thoughtcrime Prevention Act of 2007

Thoughtcrime Prevention Act of 2007 (H. R. 1955 and S. 1959)

The Congress finds the following: ... The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

Maybe they meant to say Newscorp? Disney? TimeWarner? General Electric? Viacom? CBS?

Pretty Good Oatmeal

Every Saturday morning, the first thing I do upon waking is go for run. After coming back and showering, I break-fast with this oatmeal, which I find to be mighty tasty.


All ingredients I acquire from the bulk section of my local food co-op (except the honey, which comes from the farmer’s market). Everything, of course, is organic.

  • 4 oz. thick rolled oats
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 spoon full of honey
  • A pinch (or two) of sea salt

(For me, this makes one serving. Your mileage may vary.)


  1. Put the correct amounts of oats, sugar, and raisins in a container and set it aside.
  2. Place 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Dump in the oats, sugar, and raisins.
  4. Add a pinch (or two) of sea salt.
  5. Mix it up, allow everything to return to a full boil, then lower the heat to something around medium.
  6. Watch it till the mixture becomes your preferred consistency, stirring occasionally. It usually takes 5-6 minutes for me.
  7. When it looks to be about done, turn off the heat and mix in one whopping, overflowing spoon full of honey.
  8. Let it cool for a minute or two, and enjoy!

A Redesign

So, things are looking a little different around here, no? I’ve had this design floating around in the grey-matter for a spell, but I didn’t think I’d start on it for a while yet.

Then I got bored.

I whipped it up last night and today. A lot quicker than I thought. There’s still a few tweaks I want to make, but it looks so much better than the last one, I decided to put it up before it was polished.

The design is very CSS heavy – though “heavy” might not be the right descriptor, as the whole thing is rather quite light in terms of size. CSS dependent. How’s that? The last few visions of this site have been CSS dependent, but in this one – inspired in large part by CSS Zen Garden – I’ve done my best to take out all styling from the pages and put it in the stylesheet. Of course, there’s probably a bit of legacy styling lurking here-and-there in various old blog posts. Let me know if you stumble on any.

The design has been tested in Firefox on both OS X and Ubuntu, as well as Safari in OS X. Let me know if you stumble upon any bugs, unless you’re using IE. Actually, if you’re using IE and want to send in a screenshot, I’d be curious to see how the site renders.

I’m sure someone will be curious about the stripes. I put them in there as a joke and placeholder till I figured out what I wanted to do with the background, but hell if they don’t look halfway decent. (It always ends up with me that some of the best design features start as jokes are bugs.) So, for now, they stay.

Removing Target Attributes from Wordpress Links

For years, I’ve always added the target attribute to links going off-site. And for a while less, I’ve wished that I hadn’t – I believe that where a link opens should be left up to the user – but never had the motivation to stop or, more importantly, go back and edit all the old links.

Till now.

Instead of the Transitional doctype, I want to validate my pages with XHTML 1.0 Strict, in which the target attribute is deprecated. Google had the answer, in the form of Lorelle’s guide on search and replacing in WP databases. It’s quite simple, even for one with database-fu as weak as mine. Just login to your database via phpMyAdmin, hit the SQL button on the upper left and enter your query.

Lorelle’s sample is:

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE (
'Item to replace here',
'Replacement text here');

I had to change my table, which is still named from my b2/cafelog days, and so executed this:

UPDATE b2posts SET post_content = REPLACE (


Get A Bike

Cyclists, skinny tires, streetcar rails: not a good mix - Seattle Times

New streetcar tracks on Seattle’s Westlake Avenue have turned into a trap for bicyclists.

The tires on a standard road bike are narrower than the 1 3/4 inch groove that holds a streetcar wheel. If a bicycle veers into that gap, it can easily get stuck, pitching the rider onto the street. … Despite the goal of Mayor Greg Nickels to triple bicycle use, the new streetcar line includes long stretches of track in the curb lanes of Westlake Avenue, where bicyclists normally ride. Many riders have adapted by riding on sidewalks, to the left of the tracks – or in the left lane, which aggravates motorists.

Obviously, I agree. Though I don’t see an issue with just switching to the left lane. It may be an annoyance to those in motorized vehicles, but, honestly, that’s their problem. If they can afford to buy a car, buy insurance, buy gas, and maintain their car, surely they can afford to slow down a bit and let us pass.

Just Because You're Paranoid...

Bruce Schneir’s recent admission that he keeps his passwords in his wallet has been making rounds throughout the ‘Net. I respect his opinion, but I must admit, the idea surprises me. I suppose it makes sense, since my wallet already holds other bits of precious of an equal value, but it seems to go against my natural paranoia. I do sometimes write new passwords down and carry them on me until I memorize them, but then I incinerate the piece of paper it was written on. And when I write the password, I do it on a piece of paper placed on a hard surface, so as to not unintentionally leave an impression on a notepad. Too paranoid? Maybe.

What if I encrypted the passwords with Solitaire and carried the cyphertext with me. Still too paranoid?

Fight Club

For the past two months, I’ve been attending Unbridled Martial Arts – or, as I refer to it, Fight Club. It’s a mixed martial arts club, mixed gender and of various skill levels. There is no belt-system, or ranking of any kind. Tuesday and Thursday nights are stand-up fighting, which draw from the likes of muay-thai, kickboxing, judo, American boxing, and karate. Wednesday nights are weapons and grappling. The weapons training is escrima, with the weapons themselves being escrima sticks and knives. Grappling draws from wrestling, Jujutsu, judo, Shamrok submission fighting, and Israeli self-defense.

There are no contracts, so class sizes vary. Usually attendance at the stand-up fighting class is around 16, and weapons/grappling about half of that.

Rob is the only instructor (though he sometimes draws on other students to assist). He’s a great teacher, and somehow manages to split his attention throughout the class’s various skill levels. During my first few sessions, I always felt that he gave full attention to us noobs, and now, I feel like he gives his attention to those of us slightly more experienced, even when we have a batch of beginners joining the class.

All the instruction is focused on real-world street self-defense. There are very few flashy moves. I believe one could become a more effective fighter by studying a classic art, such as Aikido, for an extended period of time, but what’s taught in Fight Club is skill enough to make one sufficient in a short period of time.

Escapades in the Art of Wireless Piracy

As the Macbooks don’t come with PCMCIA or Express card slots, I’m unable to use my old Proxim card for less than savory acts of wireless piracy. I haven’t been able to find any USB wifi dongles that please me, so I decided to go another route.

The DD-WRT project is alternative firmware that turns your supported consumer wireless AP into an untamed beast. More to the point, it allows the AP to act as a repeater – hijacking a current signal, boosting it, and rebroadcasting. For the hardware, I bartered for a Linksys WRT54GL (v1.1) at the Bay of E. The device is supported, and has two RP-TNC jacks, allowing me to replace the default antennas with two of my uncommonly large spikes.

Despite the labyrinth of convoluted, contradictory information that is the DD-WRT wiki, installation was quite simple. First, I reset the router to factory defaults through the web interface. It was new out of the box, so I imagine already set to factory defaults, but who knows. The wiki suggests the first flash of the WRT54GL be with the mini firmware, but, after that, it can be flashed to any other version. So, I downloaded both dd-wrt.v23_sp2_mini.zip and dd-wrt.v23_sp2_standard.zip. The wiki also claims that Firefox may fubar the upgrade and suggests using IE in its stead. Not having access to IE, I went to flash dd-wrt.v23_mini_generic.bin through the web interface using Safari, which promptly failed. The router’s default firmware was in no way damaged, so I went to do the same thing again in Firefox (, which worked without a hitch. Giving no explanation as to why, the wiki suggests that after one arrives at the “Upgrade Successful” screen, one should wait for the esoteric count of 5 minutes before hitting continue (perhaps while chanting some manner of incantation). I did this (minus the chanting), hit continue, and was greeted by a login prompt. The default user/pass of root/admin didn’t work, so I held down the reset switch on the back of the router for 30 seconds (leaving the power cord plugged in), after which the router booted up, accepted the root/admin login, and all was shiny. After that, I upgraded to the standard firmware without note, and quickly realized that I actually needed the v24 beta firmware. So, I grabbed dd-wrt.v24_std_generic.bin, upgraded to that (again without problem), and was finally ready to turn it into a repeater.

To set it up, I first changed the router’s IP to, so that it was on a different subnet than my target. Next, under Wireless Basic Settings, I changed the mode to Repeater, entered the target SSID, and changed the wireless channel to Auto, leaving all the other settings on their defaults. After saving those settings, I added a virtual interface with my own SSID and made sure it was set to Bridged. Then, after saving that, I followed the wiki’s advice to go to the Security tab, uncheck everything under Block WAN Requests and disabled the firewall. That was it. The router had a WAN IP displayed in the upper right hand corner, indicating that it was working.

Note that up till here, I was doing everything on the router through a wired connection, which was strongly urged in many places and seemed wise to me. At this point, I unplugged the cat5, turned on my Airport, connected to my new AP, and was online immediately.

Season's First Snow

Even after last night’s few flakes, I didn’t believe the forecaster’s call for snow this weekend. It seems much too early. But this morning I awoke to a good inch on the ground, and snow still falling (though it’s getting a bit wet, now in the afternoon).

The Farmer’s Market is dwindling, about a quarter of its usual size. Most vendors have retreated to the covered areas.

A Dwindling Crowd

Lube and Kebabs

After tonight’s sub-freezing Critical Mass (there were a few flakes of snow), I lubed my bike chain and treated myself to a couple kebabs, both of which combine to make an interesting aroma. I imagine my dreams tonight will involve beef and oil.

But for now, I will warm my fingers around a mug of kukicha.

It Must Be Beta

High hopes had I for this new-fangled terrain view on Google Maps. “Aha!” I said to myself, “This I shall use for planning new bike routes.” But the inaccuracies are too great, the scale too small, and I’m left with my worn topo maps.

Paper, it seems, is not to be replaced.

Education Against Life

The regular course of studies, the years of academical and professional education have not yielded me better facts than some idle books under the bench at the Latin school. What we do not call education is more precious than that which we call so. We form no guess at the time of receiving a thought, of its comparative value. And education often wastes its effort in attempts to thwart and baulk this natural magnetism which with sure discrimination selects its own. ... It is natural and beautiful that childhood should enquire, and maturity should teach; but it is time enough to answer questions when they are asked. Do not shut up the young people against their will in a pew, and force the children to ask them questions for an hour against their will.
  • Emerson, Spiritual Laws

Apparently, There's a Camera

Mildly Perplexed Gah!

iSight and Photo Booth effects add an agreeable amount of weirdness to any conundrum.

A Stark Lacking of Kit

This morning while putting on my pants, I noticed an immediate lack of gadgety-goodness. Frantic patting of my waist confirmed it: my Leatherman Wave was indeed missing, pouch and all! How does that happen? Granted, the pouch was showing age, and was of poor quality even in its youth, but, still – did it just fall off? The bike crash must have something to do with it. I do did wear the tool on the side that came came crashing down.

Now I need a new multitool. My experience with Leatherman has been good (sans pouch), so I think I’ll stick with them. A skeletool, mayhap?


The keenly aware among you may perchance have perceived my perplexing switch to Flickr.

Yes, it’s true, I’ve taken the Web 2.0 plunge. I still support ZenPhoto, but their development was going a bit slow on some of the features I wanted. (Of course, they release the new version right when I switch.) I’m also attempting to cut down on my disk space usage, so hosting my photos elsewhere is helpful.

Flickr is, well, featurelicious. It’s what I would call tasteful Web 2.0: functional javascript and social networking based around something, instead of social networking for the sake of social networking.

There’s a bunch of Flickr Wordpress plugins in the codex. Some day, I may install one, but for now, I’m done messing with photos: it’s been about 2 weeks moving everything into Flickr and a day replacing old links.

Save Your Face

My bike entered into an argument with a set of train tracks today. In a bit of a Snidely-Whiplash-moment, I took a nasty spill on said tracks. No damage to me, thanks to a helmet, gloves, and, most importantly Revision Sawflys.

I conked the side of my face pretty good. There’s no doubt that if I’d been wearing my normal glasses, there would have been scratched lenses, snapped frames, and I probably would have lost one of those damned little screws, too. But with the Sawflys? Not a scratch! (No screws to loose, either.) Had I no eye-wear at all? Well, I probably would have gotten into a confrontation with a delivery truck before ever making it to the train tracks, but assuming no eye-wear and no genetic defects – I don’t really want to think about what that would have been like.

If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and buy a pair.

And the bike? No damage, save for one of the brake levers slightly bent. I was only a couple blocks from the bike shop, so I rode down there and they recommended I just bend it back. Good as new!

Bellingham Critical Mass

I attempted to snap a few photos at Critical Mass (Halloween edition) last night, but the low light and difficultly of riding my bike at the same time conspired against me. None of them turned out.

So, instead, you’ll just have to come out. We meet at the Depot Market (right across from Boundary Bay) at 5:15PM, the last Friday of every month. The mass usually doesn’t take off till about 5:30PM and there’s no set route, but rides generally last from 1 to 2 hours. Our city’s motorists are mostly supportive.

Cast Off Assignment

I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward... Let us bow and apologize never more... Let us affront and reprimand the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times, and hurl in the face of custom, and trade, and office, the fact which is the upshot of all history, that there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor moving wherever moves a man; that a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things.
  • Emerson, Self-Reliance

TAD Gear Force 10 Legionnaire Classic Cargo Pants

You’d think that after however many thousands of years, pants would have stopped evolving. How much can you do with a pair of pants? Apparently, if you’re Triple Aught Design, just a little bit more.

TAD Gear’s Force 10 Legionnaire Classic Cargo Pants are an amazing pair of pants. I mean it. Really. There’s pants, and then there’s TAD pants. With a really big gap in between the two. And the TAD pants are on the upper end. Way up.

TAD Gear Legionnaire Cargos

The Legionnaires are made from 7.5 oz cotton “gabardine” – which is just a fancy way of saying twill (I had to look that up). (They’re also available in ripstop.) They have two front pockets, two rear pockets, two cargo pockets, and two thigh pockets.

The cargo pockets aren’t just normal cargo pockets – they’re 9” deep behemoths (that’s a Hebrew word for beast, by the way). They’re great. You could probably loose something in their abyss, but they’re somehow non-intrusive.

The two front pockets aren’t just normal pockets, either. They both sport clip reinforcements. That’s right: both sides. And they aren’t just little reinforcements on the seams, like on 5.11 pants. They’re diamonds that reinforce the whole shebang and provide a more secure hold for your pocket knife, thanks to the thicker fabric. The right front pocket also has an interior coin pocket. (Note: I’ve found that these pockets do not work with Emerson Knives’ wave opener.) I should also mention that the pockets are made of the same tough material as the rest of the pants – a welcome feature, to be sure. The first failures I always experience on pants are holes in the cheap material used to make pockets.

The back pockets are just normal back pockets. (You thought I was going to say they weren’t, didn’t you? Well, they do have the very stylish button-and-ribbon closures that are also found on the cargo pockets.)

The front of the pants have two D-rings, one on each side. Again, beating 5.11 pants by one. I really don’t know why more folks don’t put these on their pants.

Every single stress point on these pants are bartacked. All of them. There’s not a single point where reinforcements are missing. The butt is reinforced, the knees are reinforced and slightly articulated, every seam is reinforced.

The absolute best thing about these pants are the two front thigh pockets. It’s honestly hard for me to put on a pair of pants without these now. They’re a perfect fit for seemingly everything I want to put in them – cell phone, gps, camera, energy bar, notepad.

Another amazing feature – and one that makes me love TAD even more – is that the only logo on the pants (excluding the “TAD Gear green label” on the inside of the fly) is velcroed on to the right cargo pocket. Velcroed. TAD is actually giving the wearer the option of advertising for them. What other company does that? Everyone else plasters their logos all over their products and forces me to go to the trouble of cutting them off or covering them up. (TAD, Kifaru, and Arc’Teryx are usually the only companies I billboard for.)

Last June I used the uniform grant I had been given to buy a pair of TAD’s Force 10 Combat Pants (seen here on patrol) and I actually like the Legionnaires better. The Force 10’s triple reinforced knees added a good deal of heat in the sun and I didn’t find them necessary for my needs. I liked the top slot of the cargo pockets, but I found that the internal dividers would sometimes annoy me as I’d blindly reach into the pockets, groping for something, and put my hand into one of the smaller pockets instead of the main bellow. The ribbons on the cargo pocket buttons weren’t sewn down (as they are on these newer Legionnaires) and often got in the way. The one feature I really wish they’d carry over to the Legionnaires is the diamond gusseted crotch.

In case you haven’t caught on, the Legionnares are amazing pants. They’re expensive, but worth the money. Go hungry for a few days if you have to. I’ve worn these pants every day since I bought them last month, and if I had the money I’d purchase a second pair.

(MilitaryMorons, of course, has a better review, though his are a slightly older style. These new ones have a zipper fly instead of buttons and all pocket ribbons are now sewn down.)

Some people have been curious about my rolls. I started rolling my pants last year at MutantFest. I got too lazy to blouse them every day, but wanted to keep them out of the water and mud. After that, it stuck. I started riding a bike, and the rolling kept the right pant leg from getting messed up the chain. It isn’t dependent on wearing combat boots – I can do it with shorter hikers. I’ve since discovered that rock climbers roll their pants. I like to think that copying them makes other folk less excited than bloused pants with combat boots. But most of all, I keep doing it because I can refer to my rolled pants as “combat knickers”, which is a source of great amusement.

Leather and Asphalt

I wrote this last month. It still holds.

I’m back at my desk job. Classes have begun. Summer – as if a dream – has passed by and, though I’ve only been sedentary for a matter of days and I’ve enjoyed my return to this wonder-full city, my feet have begun to itch. Once more I feel the need to wander, to cast off and let the Road take me where it will.

5.11 Tactical Long Sleeve Shirt

5.11 Shirt

The 5.11 Tactical Long Sleeve shirt is your average button up uniform shirt, overclocked for the more demanding user. There’s nothing to scream “shoot me first”, but one can rest assured that some measure of toughness was put into its construction, and some thought into its design.

There are two breast pockets, roughly 5.5” x 5”, which close with two velcro squares. Behind the breast pocket on either side are one of the shirt’s best features: hidden document pockets. These open vertically in the “Napoleon style” with two velcro rectangles and measure in at about 6.5” x 10”. They’re great for carrying tickets, notebooks, passports (yes, plural; you know you have more than one, you double agent you), or, if you’re one of the 5.11 models, a small firearm.

The shirt also features a vented back (one of the few areas where the observant onlooker may notice something odd about the shirt) with mesh lining, rolled-up-sleeve-holder-thingies, and two small underarm vents (read: holes) for warmer weather.

The left sleeve sports two pen slots near the top, one of which I can just squeeze a kubotan into, though it’s a little awkward.

The shirt’s elbows are reinforced and, best of all, almost every seam is triple stitched. I don’t know why practices like that aren’t more common on clothing.

Additionally, 5.11 includes two epaulets and a badge holder to be optionally sewn on the shirt.

Two logos are placed on the shirt, in addition to the neck tag: one on the bottom and one on the left cuff, both of which can be easily cut off for sanitation.

I’ve only had this black cotton shirt now for a few weeks, but have no complaints so far. It’s a well made piece of clothing that blends right in at most locations (or would blend in, had I not sewn the jolly roger on the right sleeve), but I’m not afraid to roll around in the dirt in. A perfect example of a dual use garment.

The ripstop nylon version of the shirt I’ve had since last March and have been extremely pleased. It’s slid down more than a couple cliffs and has stayed together and presentable through situations where other synthetic shirts from REI, Mountain Hardwear, and Cabelas have not. I’ve worn it comfortably up to 100F (or at least as comfortable as I was in that temperature with just a t-shirt) and often will wear it in colder temperatures over a fleece or merino mid-layer to protect those undergarments from ripping.

LAPoliceGear was kind enough to send me this shirt for review. They maintain a large stock of 5.11 products for fast shipping, all at some of the best prices on the net. (Actually, I don’t think I own a 5.11 product that I haven’t purchased from LAPoliceGear– shirts, pants, or boots.)

3-11-08 Update:

I lost a button off the cuff today.

Some Place in Time

I went for a walk along the bay today. While I was climbing around in a tree house, an old man with a pipe and accordion walk underneath and asked if I slept up there. A comment on my appearance, perhaps? I don’t know, but I took it as a compliment – certainly better than the “did you use to be in the army?” comment I received last month.

(I’m holding out for the day when outdoor gear makers see the light and PALS webbing becomes common on civilian gear.)

Tree Home

Jabber Update

My Jabber address has changed to pm at lostroadsociety dot org. I probably won’t be on the old one anymore. ICQ and AIM contacts have stayed the same.

Chocolate Entheogen


Chocolate 'aids fatigue syndrome' A daily dose of dark chocolate may help reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, say UK researchers. Patients in a pilot study found they had less fatigue when eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa content than with white chocolate dyed brown. The researchers from Hull York Medical School said the results were surprising but dark chocolate may be having an effect on the brain chemical serotonin. ... He explained: "Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols, which have been associated with health benefits such as a reduction in blood pressure. "Also high polyphenols appear to improve levels of serotonin in the brain, which has been linked with chronic fatigue syndrome and that may be a mechanism."

Yes, serotonin: that chemical that is oh so similar to dimethyltryptamine. Enjoy your dark chocolate while you can, before it’s outlawed as hallucinogenic!

Can't Stop the Signal

In case you haven’t gathered, my net presence has been restored, thanks to a new (pre-loved) +18dBi outdoor omni-directional antenna.


I’ve just finished watching Zeitgeist.

Part I of the film, the first 30 minutes or so, drags on with Christianity’s astrological correlations and the similarities between the Judeo-Christian religions with those belief structures held prior. Nothing new, little debatable, and not to be shocking to all but the most naive. I kept asking myself “And what is your point?”

The film begins Part II with an audio excerpt defining myth as an “orienting and mobilizing story for a people.” Correct. “The focus is not on the story’s relation to reality, but on it’s function.” Incorrect. The myth’s focus is entirely on its relation to reality and thus its function: its function is to explain reality. “A story cannot function unless it is believed to be true in the community or the nation.” Incorrect. Useful, but incorrect. In fact, the film itself disproves this. In it’s beginning, it covers a number of the stories of Christianity and their metaphorical, astrological significance, which is no revelation. I think – I hope – very few Christians actually believe in the literal resurrection (or even the literal existence) of their dead-guy-on-a-stick, but that does nothing to lessen or alter that story’s function.

From this faulty basis they break into footage of the collapse of the World Trade Center and begin to question the official stories of the events, attempting to draw a parallel, it would seem, between this and religion.

Part III discusses the financial control of our government – the grip of the central banks – and ends with their plans of one world government.

There is a disconnect between the film’s beginning, discussing religion, and the later parts. Only at the end are the lines attempted to be drawn. They mean to show religion as a control structure and more importantly a lie, similar to events such as 9/11. But not enough parallels are drawn, and the idea is fundamentally flawed. Where religious belief structures are created out of a desire for good and then twisted for evil, events and stories such as 9/11 were never intended for any good. Most importantly, where the stories of 9/11 are a lie, myth – religion – is a metaphor. Not a lie.

I would have removed the first part and made into a separate film.

As Yet-Another-9/11-Film and a documentary on financial control, Zeitgeist sits on par with the rest. As something greater, it fails.

(But it does include excerpts from Network, which makes it worth viewing.)

Vavrek has uploaded a 3GB DVD rip of the film to my anonymous ftp. Enjoy: ftp://ftp.pig-monkey.com/pub/zeitgeist.iso

One More Escape

I’m heading East to Montana for a few days.

Back from the Wasteland

It is as I feared. My neighbors who so kindly allowed me to slip in unnoticed and occupy the shadows of their networks have moved on. I returned yesterday and as of yet, no new suitable AP has presented itself, even with my +14dBi spike. So my presence here will be limited for a time.

It’s good to be back. Clean air, clean water, good bread. This morning I rose early, pumped my tires, and jumped on my bike for a tour of the City. I’ve missed my bike the past three months (but not these hills).

No Place

Tomorrow I leave the Park. I’ll be heading north, arriving home in a few days. I imagine I’ll have to crack another AP when I get there, so I may not be online for a bit longer.

An Unexpected Light

Jason Elliot’s An Unexpected Light: Travels In Afghanistan is a beautifully written book, on par with The Places In Between. The author’s aimless wanderings in Afghanistan during the rise to power of the Taliban record the country and its people in an undeniably alluring way. He captures the daily life of Afghans throughout the country and, in his honest and provocative writing, the impact of decades of war.

Building My Immune System

A sample of my tap-water is off to the lab today, to see if The Feds have been poisoning me with copper and lead. I’ve had enough interaction with the guys at the water treatment plant here to guess that the answer is yes.

A couple weeks ago there was an incident with an RV-er dumping his poopy-water near one of our water intakes. A while before that, one of the sewage pipes was leaking into one of the clean water pipes above it.

Advice: don’t drink the water in National Parks.

My War

Colby Buzzel’s My War: Killing Time in Iraq falls into the category of books that I’m not sure what to say about – it leaves one stunned upon completion. Reminiscent of Jarhead, this book version of the author’s blog is a hard-hitting depiction of the war. There’s no coating or attempts to depict false senses of glory and honor and the rest of the recruiter’s material. The poor grammar serves to reinforce the raw vision. The highest praise I can give the book, I suppose, is that I burned through it in 8 hours.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is excellent for the digestion. I drink a cup after dinner most every night. It immediately does away with that ‘stuffed’ feeling in my stomach if I accidentally ate too much. The tea greets me with a pleasant smell every time I open the cupboard and is also great for dealing with stress.

Feed Your Headspace

Listen to vavmind.

0 1 2 . . .

Danger Close

Bow hunting season started yesterday in the Forest, so now on my patrols I have to watch out for wackos with bows who’ve (un)knowingly wandered into the Park. Hunting season also means an influx of bears and deer – they know the boundaries and that they’re save from hunters inside the Park.

I think the squirrels are also aware. On my hike today I was bombarded by falling Sequoia cones, cut down by the squirrels above. They seem to be targeting habitual bipeds of all sorts – taking no chances.


One should always carry the knowledge and skill to navigate in your place. Always in my pack is a Silva Ranger CL compass – a light, compact compass, for which I can use to navigate either with the terrain or with a map. The compass is stored in a TAD Gear BC-8 pouch, which I picked up on my pilgrimage to TAD while passing through San Francisco earlier this summer. The pouch can be attached to my belt, pack, or any other piece of webbing, assuring the compass always has a place on my person, without taking up precious pocket space.

In the field, I also carry a Garmin Etrex Vista Cx GPS device. The GPS is unessential and shouldn’t be relied upon for primary navigation. Its error is larger than that of a compass; it depends upon a clear line of sight to the sky, making it more of a hassle than a help to use in forested areas; and, of course, it depends upon batteries. I’ve had one occasion this summer where the GPS insisted that North was South and South was North, implying either a sporadic pole shift or shaky satellite reception. My primary use of the GPS is the trip computer – the odometor, my moving time, my stopping time, my average speed, and elevation shift. I’ll also use it for a quick reading of my coordinates to get a rough idea where I am, and occasionally the Tracks program, which can be used to retrace my steps.

Always carry a map. USGS 7.5” topo maps are the best. On my backcountry trips here in the Park, I carry a minimum of 3 maps: a Tom Harrison Map of the entire Park, a Tom Harrison Map more specific to my location in the Park, and the USGS maps for each quadrangle I plan to walk through. The map I primary reference is the second Tom Harrison, which is clear and easy to read and has mileage printed directly on the trails. The USGS maps I carry for cross-country travel or in case I get lost. The large Tom Harrison map is carried more for a sense of place and planning other trips.

Learn to read a map. I’ve never had a class in the subject, nor read a book, but I’m confident in my ability to utilize a map. The best way to learn is practice. Here’s what to do: buy the USGS 7.5” quadrangle for the area you live in. If you live in an urban area, try to buy a quadrangle for a nearby park or forested area – someplace that isn’t flattened and paved. (But buy the maps for the urban areas too! I have the 7” quadrangles for the city I live in, covering my home and commute, taped on my wall, for exploration and post-Apocalypse survival.) Now take your new map and wander into the woods. Figure out where you are. Find a feature on the map, such as a hill or a ridge, and then find it in your place. How steep are the contours in real life? Here’s a hint: contours “V” upstream.

Even if you’re unable to triangulate your position or perform other minute calculations, you should have the confidence to read a map and have a rough idea of what that means in real life. A few weeks ago, a visitor came in to the Visitor Center in the Park while I was working. He was interested in a backcountry permit. After glancing at the map, he asked how much water he should bring. I hate giving someone like that a permit. If you’re unable to read the steepness of the trail and the locations of water sources, you have no business in the backcountry. And everybody should have business in the backcountry. So learn to read.

Pictures of my gear may be found here.

Mt. Silliman

Since my first visit to Ranger Lake, I’ve had an inkling to climb the trail-less Mt. Silliman. It sits at 11,188 feet – just a little below Alta. On this last 3 day trip in the backcounty, I took a day to attempt it. From my camp at Ranger Lake, there’s a trail that took me about 2 miles and 1,000 feet to the top of Silliman Pass. From there, I cut south to go cross-country 2 miles and 1,000 feet to the summit.

About half the trek is a scramble up and down granite boulders. I had a couple questionable moments, where I wasn’t sure if I could get back, or even forward, and had to elect for a risky slide on my backside. The other half opens up into wider, flatter stretches of sand. There I saw Mountain Lion tracks and, for the first time, the tracks of the ever-elusive Bighorn Sheep.

After about 1.5 miles cross-country, I decided to turn around, having made it almost to the base of the summit. I hadn’t started till late in the day so I was losing the sun, and the terrain ahead looked like it was to get a bit technical for my non-existent rock climbing skills. (My hands were already scraped up and blistered from the scrambling and the previous day’s adventures.)

The views from the crest rivaled that of Alta; I was able to hang my feet over the jagged, immense cliff on the eastern side while stopping for a snack. The attempt was not wasted. Some day I’ll make my way back.

Mt. Silliman

Drug Ops

Today marks the end of the special operations that have been occurring all week near our district headquarters. We’ve had most of the Park’s law enforcement down there raiding marijuana gardens and monitoring the grower’s communications. It made for interesting chatter on the radio, though somewhat annoying when one needs to call out and the command channel is flooded with their traffic. The rest of us had to resort to the tactical channels, which, for whatever reason, Dispatch only infrequently monitors.

On Tuesday we had a Blackhawk come in to supplement the H1 Huey that was searching for suspect trails in the area (and, the unconfirmed report is, was shot at on Monday). Listening in, there was a lot of confusion over relaying locations between ground teams and the helicopters. For some reason indiscernible to me, they only resorted to gps coordinates after unsuccessfully attempting to describe locations with landmarks and rough distances. There was a lot of confusion over communications, in general. Quite often the field teams would have trouble reaching ICP, and vice versa. Apparently nobody sat down before the ops and marked the ideal locations to place the portable repeaters.

All in all, it was entertaining and enlightening listening, though it’s a comfort to have everyone back, no longer relying on only two Medics for the entire park.

Bear Tracking

Last night, I went out with the Bear Technicians in Cedar Grove, down in the bottom of King’s Canyon. They have two bears down there who have been running amok and finding their way into houses, the generally accepted retaliation against which is hazing, for which we have plenty of fun toys: water guns, sling shots, pepper spray, paintball guns loaded with pepper balls, shotguns with rubber slugs, and the neighborhood dogs. (Hazing the humans who left food out and their windows unlocked is not yet standard practice.) So, last night, we were tasked with tracking the two bears and making their lives slightly less pleasant than usual.

One we tracked for a few hours, but he ran away when approached with the shotgun. The other managed to ditch her radio collar and evade us.

I imagine we scared off a few tourists: cruising around with the driver pointing a spotlight out the window, the front passenger scanning with the nightvision goggles, and me in the back, holding an antenna out the window, working the telemetry, with the paintball gun sitting next to me.

We were unsuccessful in trapping or hazing (much) either of the two bears by 10:30P, so resorted to driving through the campgrounds looking for food violations, which amounts to spying on people with nightvision, followed by a raid of their camp.

I left to start my drive back up to the top of the canyon a little before midnight.

On the Road to Kandahar

Jason Burke’s On the Road to Kandahar despite its title does not deal exclusively with Afghanistan and the former power-seat of the Taliban. It is the author’s account of his experience reporting, for the last decade or so, from the Islamic world. Focusing on the rise and nature of militant Islam, Burke puts forth his theory on the dispersed and autonomous nature of the groups, analyzing the cause of their rise and their increasingly lacking support from local communities. Though I’ve yet to read his first book, Al-Qaeda, this one seems to be in large part a rehashing of the same, but updated, broader in scope, and, after the attacks on the author’s home city of London, more personal. I quite enjoyed it. A recommended read for those interested in the region.

Fresno Tree Removal

On my way out of the autonomous republic of Fresno today, I passed a Fresno Tree Removal Service truck with wood-chipper in tow, which struck of chord of humour with me.

We couldn’t have trees in Fresno! That would mean shade and clean air and everything else that Fresno so valiantly stands against.

Eating Local

Most weeks, I venture out of our mountain stronghold into the autonomous republic of Fresno, in search of groceries. It seems ironic to me that despite Fresno’s size and location in the huge agricultural production center of the valley, I’m still eating Washington apples.

Does that still count as local?

The Prince of the Marshes

The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, Rory Stewart’s second book, is a depressing read. Detailing Stewart’s time as CPA governor in two of Iraq’s southern provinces, it gives a clear view of the mess of politics in the country. Despite intentions, any action taken by any party is turned negative, or at best futile – demonstrating the failure inherit in a people who do not wish to be governed, being governed by a people who do not wish to govern.

Foiled Again

Yesterday (the first day of my weekend), I was tapped for a SAR. I was told to be ready for 48 hours in the backcountry at 0645 today. Despite messing with my laundry plans, I was excited for the chance of a little excitement – free helicopter rides are always a welcome addition to my weekend. So, I get my pack together and prepared for a few days, only to hear that, a few hours later, they found the guy.

Next time…

A Sense of the World

Jason Robert’s A Sense Of the World is a biography of James Holman, the Blind Traveler. Living in the early 19th century, Holman traveled the world, not letting his blindness come in the way of his successful career as a writer or his circumnavigation of the globe. I found the book itself to be wanting in detail – the sense of adventure in his travels is often missing – though this is more likely due to the lack of source material than the author’s talent. For those stricken with a case of wanderlust, or, as Roberts so skillfully puts it, the “freedom of abandon”, this account of “poet turned warrior turned wanderer”, the clear predecessor to Burton, is a recommended read.

The Punishment of Virtue

The difference between journalists and writers is that journalists report events after the fact, constructing images from rumor and hearsay, presenting it as fact. Writers live in the moment. They pen what they see, hear, feel, taste, and smell – not purporting it to be fact, but only what was experienced.

Sarah Chayes begins The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban as a journalist and ends as a writer: the difference is starkly obvious. As such, I found the beginning of the book slow and mundane, but the rest an exciting and rich source of information. Overall, the book is a marked second to The Places In Between, but her summation of the history of Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the city of Kandahar, is well worth the read. And her exposure of the weakness of the Karzai government, the meddling of Pakistan, and the critique of post-Taliban U.S. policy is a crucial piece of insight into the region’s modern standing.

Ranger Lake

I returned today from Ranger Lake, the first of my overnight trips here in the backcountry. One of the many perks of this job is that I have access to all the caches hidden here and there. At Ranger Lake, there are two bear boxes filled with sleeping bags, cookware, a stove, full EMS kit, tent, bivy bag, folding chairs, and other odds-and-ends. I prefer my own sleeping bag, but other than that I need only to hike out with water and food, and still be able to live comfortably in the wilderness.

Surprisingly, the mosquitoes at the lake weren’t bothersome at all, but there was a relentless swarm at the stream I stopped at this morning to filter water. Overall I think I was bitten by more ants than anything else. I wonder what diseases they carry…

Day Dreams

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.

  • T.E. Lawrence

Alta Peak

One of the sub-district rangers is out of town this week, so I have use of her unmarked car. The Powers-That-Be don’t like me driving the marked cruisers around, though I transported one through the park a week or so ago. The reason they give me is not that I may misrepresent a federal agent, take advantage of the lights or sirens, or speed off with a few thousand dollars worth of government property – none of those logical reasons. What they tell me is that the stripes are provocative, and I may be shot at. Personally, I think the unmarked vehicles are more provocative, what with their GSA plates, antennas, and hidden lights barely visible through the windshield. It has that sort of undercover I’m-stalking-you look to it. But, I’m glad to have use of the car, instead of burning my own gas or relying on rides from the other Rangers. (Not to mention, everyone pulls over and lets you pass when they notice the plates.)

Today, I drove myself down to the Lodgepole area, with intention of taking a jaunt down to Alta Meadow: a respectable 5.7 mile (one way) hike, with 2,000 feet elevation gain. At the junction where the trail splits, the right heading to the meadow and the left to Alta Peak, I decided it was still early enough to give a try for the peak – despite the protestations of my trail map (“very strenuous…don’t undertake this trail unless you are in good physical condition…one of the most strenuous trails in the western half of Sequoia National Park.”) From the junction, the peak is only about 2 miles away, but in those two miles awaits 2,000 feet of rocky elevation gain.

I did make it to the 11,204 feet summit and the views (this being my first time in the high Sierra) were stunning, despite the haze of pollution from the West.

For your enjoyment are some pictures and videos taken along the way (any chattering in the background of the videos is my radio).

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Having seen the film, I had been familiar with T.E Lawrence, the man and his story, before reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom: but I had no idea of his skill with the pen. This book – excelling not only in historical and military account, but also in literary merit – establishes himself as one of the greatest men and truly one of the most talented writers of the 20th century.

A recommended read, Lawrence’s book is a crucial work in understanding the conflicts in Arabia today.

In these pages the history is not of the Arab movement, but of me in it. It is a narrative of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no disclosures to shock peoples. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake for history the bones from which some day a man may make history, and partly for the pleasure it gave me to recall the fellowship of the revolt. We were fond together, because of the sweep of the open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep: and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.


The wilderness pilgrim's step-by-step breath-by-breath walk up a trail, into those snowfields, carrying all on back, is so ancient a set of gestures as to bring a profound sense of body-mind joy. - Gary Snyder

Walking Under Giants

The Giant Sequoias here are some of the most amazing creatures I’ve seen on this Earth. Though beaten in height by their Coastal Redwood cousins, these Giants excel in both width and majesty. Peter Jackson got it wrong: these are the Ents, the shepards of the Forest. They instill in one a sense of scale and reverence not achieved by other visions, real or digital. Even the fallen retain their regal nature.

The Places In Between

There’s a certain madness in walking across the most heavily land-mined country in the world, in the middle of winter, during a war – but it clearly would make for a wonderful book. Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between is just such a book. The portrait of Afghanistan, it’s people, landscape and cultures in awe-some. It is a rare look that focuses not on the military history of the land, but of the people. The tale should be read by all.

First Days in the Park

After surviving two nights in Eugene, followed by two in San Francisco, I arrived last Thursday in Kings Canyon. I’m living in a two room cabin in Grant Grove. It seems that half my time will be spent in the Visitor Center and half doing wilderness trail patrol. Technically, I’m working under Law Enforcement (which means I’m the only who doesn’t CCW and I’ve been riding around in a car all day with a shotgun and loaded assault rifle of some sort sitting next to me).

Yesterday, I was offered a chance to go with my supervisor and supervisor’s supervisor to attend the last day of an EMT refresher course and help out as a victim. Of course, since EMT training usually starts around $600 and I was being offered a chance to be payed to attend, I went.

My acting skills were lacking, but I think they sufficed. It was a strange experience – I discovered that, as a WFR, my skills were on par with this room full of experienced EMTs. It would seem the most noticeable difference was their superior use of acronyms. I’m not sure whether this is praising WMI or criticizing NPS EMT training.

Today I was given the grand tour of the park. A lot of place names and people names that I’ll have trouble remembering, and discussion of which trails are where and are good for what. Toward the end of the day, the Ranger I was with was dispatched to chase down a speeding vehicle, so I was involved in what I’ll call a Kings-Canyon-high-speed-pursuit. (The guy hid from us and got away into Forest Service land before we could turn around.)

My battery is dying.

Revision Sawfly

Being a member of the genetically defective, it’s hard to find eyewear that both offers protection and allows me to see. Products from ESS, Wiley-X, and other top brands don’t fit my prescription. Frames from Oakley would kill my budget before even ordering the prescription. Most everything else in the big-wide-world-of-eyewear is concerned only with looks, not with that inevitable situation of a projectile flying at 1300 feet per second straight at you with intent to gorge your cornea.

This dilemma led me, after some time, to choosing the Revision Sawfly Military Eyewear System.

Sawfly with Rx carrier

At first, I thought the glasses had a definite I’m-going-to-kill-your-family look to them, but now I’m telling my self it’s just cyberpunk. (No word yet if Revision is planning to make mirror-shades.)

On top of the usual ANSI Z87.1 certification, the Sawflys are able to withstand a shotgun blast from 16 feet. Sure, if someone is firing a shotgun at your face from 16 feet, you’ve got other problems to worry about, but that’s quality.

There are three lenses for the system: smoke, “high contrast” (yellow), and clear. (Polarized smoke lenses, pictured above, can also be purchased). High contrast lenses, while certainly frightening the masses and screaming “shoot me first!”, are an important form of protection from advertising, mind-control, and other-world-entities.

The prescription insert is available for just $20 more. After hearing about Revision’s great customer service, I decided to take a chance and have Revision also fill my prescription. It took about 4 weeks for them to get it to me, and I’m just as happy with them as I have been with any lenses purchased from a local optometrist.

It’s too early for a review, but my first impressions are positive. The “regular” size, with the adjustable arms, is a perfect fit for my face. The coverage is excellent – my eyes no longer tear from cold air when screaming down hill at warp speed on my bike. As of yet, my only complaint is the large, plastic nosepad. It takes a little getting used to and, when sweating, I’ve found the glasses slip ever so slightly down my nose. Snapping on the included retention lanyard would fix this, but I would like to see Revision take the same rubber padding from the inside of the arms and adding this to the nosepad. I think this would increase both comfort and traction.

The Devil Drives

Fawn Brodie’s The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton is an awe-inspiring look at the life of one of the most important figures of the 19th Century. In an age when relativism was unknown, conquest the norm, Burton was able to shed off Mother Culture and view the world with his own eyes, shocking British Society and displaying a prime example of what Hakim Bey would today call poetic terrorism. In describing himself, Burton once said “he speaks the things that others think and hide.”

Explorer, linguist, archaeologist, anthropologist, soldier, spy, rogue, pervert; all have been used in attempts to label and tame Burton’s legacy. He is a man whom I am proud to look up to, and I’m thankful for this glimpse into his life.

Calling Syria

On the off chance that anybody reading this is in Syria: have you seen Nicole Vienneau? She was disappeared March 31st from Cairo Hotel in Hama and is currently the subject of a search by her brother.

Access All Areas

I’ve always thought it strange that one would write a book about urban exploration. There doesn’t seem to be a need for it. What more is there to say than ‘don’t be stupid’ and ‘don’t get caught’? But Ninjalicious pulled it off with Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration. While the high points of the book are the author’s stories of explorations, he offers an amount of good advice and even managed to expand my definition of the Art. It’s also a superior piece on social engineering to Mitnick’s The Art of Deception.

It’s by no means a must-read, but if you are interested in UE, I think it’s worth a skim in the bookstore.

A Question

How can one sanely equate tracking with protection?

I’ll take invisibility for my protection any day.

The Scabbed Wings of Abaddon

The Scabbed Wings of Abaddon is Sean Kennedy’s second published book. Like The Bloodstained Rabbit the book is a work in occult-horror, but this one is much more mature, both in its concepts and execution.

The editing could still use work – misused punctuation and similar looking but incorrect words are all to be found, though, unlike Bloodstained, not often enough to detract from the overall work.

A recommended read for fans of Sean, the occult, and/or horror.

You Can't Get Run Over By An Abstraction

…and it’s a good thing, too.

A Song Called Youth: Eclipse

Eclipse is Volume One of John Shirley’s oft-overlooked cyberpunk trilogy, A Song Called Youth.

In it, NATO and the Russians, fighting World War 3, have agreed to limit their warfare to only small-scale, tactical nukes – painfully drawing out the death of the planet (and FirStep, the space colony). Behind the scenes is the Second Alliance, a sort of combination of PNAC, Blackwater, and Jesus Camp. Worldtalk, a stand in for Newscorp, has developed a device allowing them to scan and selectively remove memory of their subjects. The New Resistance, a collection of fighters, refugees, philosophers (and a musician) headed by an ex-Mossad agent (with questionable funding and support), is the only hope against the neo-fascist-corpolitical takeover.

An excellent book, it is perhaps the most disturbing look at our corporate-dominated future. Shirley truly puts the punk in cyberpunk.


I went exploring earlier today.

Along a beach, I happened upon three different shelters, all within a few minutes walk of each other. One concrete, one wood, the other plastic (not quite straw).


(The later two looked occupied, so I didn’t enter.)

A Rare Case of Government Getting Something Right

Washington Governor Signs Bill Rejecting REAL ID

As part of a growing state rebellion, Gov. Christine Gregoire today signed a bill rejecting REAL ID, a new federal identification system that would create a de facto national ID card. Legislatures in four other states -- Maine, Idaho, Arkansas and Montana -- also have adopted measures opposing REAL ID, and lawmakers in more than 20 other states are considering similar action.

State government needs to stand up to the feds more often.

A Mysterious Encounter

I was waiting at the bus stop today when a construction worker walked up to me. He stared at me for a few moments and said “Wow, you look impressive. Cargo pants and everything.” I chuckled, told him thanks, and he went on his way.

About a minute later he came back and said “I don’t want to bother you or anything, but I got to thinking a guy dressed like that could use some wheels.” He handed me a business card and walked away. On the back was written:

www.imz-ural.com Gear-Up Model 2006 Download Manual

Now all I need is $10,995.

The strange part is, this bus stop was in the middle of a large parking lot with no construction site around. When I turned around to see where he walked off to, he was gone.

Farmers Lacking at the Farmer's Market

I went to the opening of the farmer’s market today. It seems to be smaller this year. A whole row of vendors was missing, and the vendors that are there are mostly crafts – much less produce.

My favorite apple stand was missing.

Hopefully the farmers will return and reclaim their market as the season continues.

On the plus side, my honey stock is replenished and I’m sitting here with a bag of salmon jerky.

Atwood Tactical Whistle

Most folks who would otherwise put Batman’s belt to shame tend not to carry a whistle.

Can you really blame them? Honestly, a whistle won’t do you much good when you’re being mauled by shambling hordes of the undead. The experienced Zombie Hunter would opt for a pair of khukris instead.

But the whistle does present some application to the aspiring survivalist. It serves as a possible deterrent to rapists (yes, guys get raped, too). Tooting on one helps rescuers locate your lost self.

Sure, you could pick up one of those cheap plastic ones, but that doesn’t really fit the bill. The level we’re going for is thus: If you were to pull a Rip Van Winkle in the middle of a perpetual war-zone, would your kit be undamaged upon awakening?

Plus, we all know stuff is better when it has “tactical” in the name.

That’s why I went with a Peter Atwood Tactical Whistle.


Heavy duty, loud, and shiny.

The bottom line is, the thing is made by someone who crafts custom knives. Knives kill people.

Can you kill someone with your whistle?

(Note: As I hope you gathered, this review is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Honestly, it’s a fucking whistle. Yeah, it’s a good piece of kit, but is it really worth the price difference over a Fox 40? Having never used one, I can’t say, but I doubt it.)

Ramblings on Nomads

As the train pulled into Portland last week, two ladies were having a discussion in the back of the car. One had a 3-4 hour layover before continuing her journey. She was discussing what she could do near the station to kill time. The other would not shut-up about how dangerous Portland was, especially around the station, where the homeless shelters are. “All those street people, you know. You never know what’s going to happen.” She talked of the rampant crime, the daily shootings that were reported when she lived in the city. She made it out to be ripe for one of the top positions in DP.

It’s this sort of mental constraint that I can’t understand.

Yes, Old Town is rife with society’s undesirables. The Salvation Army, the Sisters of the Road, street churches and other soup kitchens and shelters are all contained within a few blocks. But there’s no more danger there than any other part of the city. I walked through the area a number of times. I stopped and chatted with people. They tended not to be as open or as friendly as the homeless up here, but they’re not going to rob you or shoot you.

It’s the fear of the Other.

This whole thing about not feeding the homeless is idiocy.

The vast majority of homeless are not there by choice, but, still, they are performing a rebellious act.

Without a home, a mortgage, contracts and other debt to tie them down, they are free to move about on a whim. This is about control. About keeping the populace in a box. Literally.

Jeb and his ilk see the shelter, the soup kitchen, not as a means for the homeless to ‘elevate’ themselves ‘up’ to the status of home-owner (direction is relative), but instead as a means of perpetuating their rebellious status. (And for some – perhaps too few – it is.)

This, like the current wars in the Middle East, are but a continuation of the farmer’s fight with the nomad. Instead of hunting game and gathering roots, the modern nomad scavenges dumpsters and asks for loose change. Instead of carrying shelter and supplies on pack animals, the modern pastoralist lives in his van or rides the two-wheeled steed.

Nomadism represents freedom. The ability to get up and leave with the changing of the season. It represents diversity; dependence not on a handful of crops, but on an eclectic plethora of subsistence.

For thousands of years the nomad has been the bane of the farmer – the farmer who is immobile, tied to his place. Who is dependent on his technological mastery of the land and his homogeneous crop. The Chinese built and rebuilt the Great Wall to seperate themselves from the nomadic pastoralists of the Steppes.

The Middle East, once a great, thriving civilization of farmers, was leveled by the nomad Chinggis Khan. It still has not recovered. No modern farming culture has built an ocean-less empire equaling the size of the Mongol World Empire at its peak.

Nomadism is power. Self empowerment.

The nomad is only ever defeated when he accepts the way of the farmer, settles down and is absorbed into the culture.

The nomad’s power lays in his ability to survive with in the farmer’s culture, or with out it.

I don’t mean to hold the pastoralist nomad of the Steppes up as an ideal – or any other culture – but his ways must be studied. Learnt. Mastered. Melded together with each other and with the Other, and mutated into something for this day.

Something new and powerful and better.

Something to free us the shackles of the caste and the class.

Something sustainable.

This is the New Tribal Revolution.

Kamana One

Kamana is the Wilderness Awareness School‘s four-level independent study “naturalist training program”.

Kamana One introduces the student to the ideas and style of teachings that will form the base for the rest of the program. It’s divided into two sections. The first, the “Nature Awareness Trail” devotes itself to the psychological aspects of the modern primitive. It deals with awareness; directions, surroundings, details. I was surprised at the remarkable similarities between it and vipassana.

The second part, the “Resource Trail” deals with the other half of naturalist training. Mammal and plant identification, bird language, and field guides are just a few of the topics covered. This part is often referred to as “the field guide for field guides” because of it’s ability to decrypt the otherwise esoteric manuals.

In addition to the text book, Kamana One includes Jon Young’s Seeing Through Native Eyes audio set. This is definitely the best part of the course. It’s best described as all of Jon Young’s vast knowledge squeezed down and compressed into 8 CDs, covering both psychological and physical aspects.

In the end, I don’t feel that the program (with the exception of the audio portion) gave me much new. The ideas presented in the “Nature Awareness Trail” I had already developed through my own readings and practice. The ideas in “Resource Trail”, too, I had already discovered through my own study, including the Learning Herbs kit. The course is better suited for one who is new to all of this. Someone who perhaps has an interest in the outdoors, in survival, but is looking to take that interest a step forward.

(Urban Scout has some criticisms and other thoughts of the Kamana program.)

Nemesis Hellion

Last winter when TAD Gear had their holiday sale, I picked up a Nemesis Hellion.

It’s an nice little neck knife – though I don’t often carry it that way. I tend to tuck it away somewhere in my jacket, or sometimes a boot, as a last ditch resort for when all my other blades have receded into the void and the cardboard boxes are out for blood.

For when I do carry it around the neck, I replaced the chain with gutted paracord and wrapped the handle Atwood style (also with gutted paracord) to reduce the amount of cold metal touching my skin.


The Kydex sheath is a tight fit. It takes a few wiggles to get the knife loose, and the blade often comes out with black specs cut from the inside of the sheath. (At least you can be assured the knife isn’t going to fall out and impale you in the toe.)

When it first came, the butt-end was almost as sharp as the tip. The next time I went out, I took a little sandstone to it and sanded it down.

Honestly, a knife this small doesn’t have much application (unless you’re Jack Bauer – I’m sure he could find a use for it). It’s more of a fun toy. I wouldn’t pay the $39.99 TAD currently asks for it, but if you can find it cheaper, it’s a well built blade and a worthy addition to any collection of Sharp Things.

Plans are meant to be tossed away

Greetings from Portland. (Surprise?)

I’m staying in the Hawthorne District, which so far seems to be an over-sized Capitol Hill – same shops, even.

If anyone has suggestions for that which must be done or seen, let me know. I head home Friday.

Public transportation here seems to be overpriced, but I can rent a bike for $15, so I think I might do that tomorrow. Walking around today, it looked this area was bike-friendly, but the other side of the Willamette River… not so much.

The Forecast Calls For Rain

I’m off to the islands. I don’t expect to have internet access till I get back, and I don’t have the sidewinder adapter for my new phone, so communications will be scarce. See you around.

A Potential Threat

Schneier mentions a new “Citizen Counter-Terrorists” program in Manchester. The hotline asks callers 10 questions concerning their potential terrorist neighbor. Let’s see if I fit the bill.

  1. Do you know anyone who travels but is vague on where they're going? Check
  2. Do you know someone with documents in different names for no obvious reason? Check
  3. Do you know someone buying large or unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reason? No
  4. Handling chemicals is dangerous, maybe you've seen goggles or masks dumped somewhere? Check
  5. If you work in commercial vehicle hire or sales, has a sale or rental made you suspicious? n/a
  6. Have you seen someone with large quantities of mobiles? No
  7. Have you seen anyone taking pictures of security arrangements? Check
  8. Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites? Check
  9. Have you seen any suspicious cheque or credit card transactions? Check
  10. Is someone is asking for a short-term let on a house or flat on a cash basis for no apparent reason? No

Looks like I meet 6/10 of their requirements for being a terrorist. 60% isn’t considered a passing grade, in my experience. Take that, you pesky neighbors!




As part of an article on the increase of Fort Lewis soldiers in Iraq, the Seattle Times today has an image of the Stryker Brigrade with a caption that reads

Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team use smoke grenades for concealment as they engage anti-Iraqi forces in Baqubah last week.

It’s interesting what they choose to title the Bad Guys™. No longer rebels, insurgents, freedom fighters, or terrorists.

Anti-Iraqi. Certainly there are citizens of Iraq who disagree with the ideals of those getting smoked by the Stryker Brigade, but the term “anti-Iraqi” implies some sort of overwhelming consensus in the country that these people are wrong – implies that the Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurds feel some sort of political unity, which I really don’t see as the case. The country of Iraq is purely a figment of the West’s imagination.

(On another note, is it just me, or are those guys in the picture wearing Multi-Cam? Shouldn’t they be in ACU? Perhaps they grew tired of getting shot at due to crappy, useless – not to mention ugly – camo. Revolt!)

The Structure of Delight

Nelson Zink‘s The Structure of Delight is a book of stories within stories. A sort of manual for reprogramming you mind, it’s the book that Daniel Quinn would write if Quinn had been a student of Freud.

Through the interwoven stories, Zink challenges perception and meaning, expounding that all is rooted in the mind, shifting the reader’s experience of reality.

The Ecology of Magic

For those who have yet to read David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous, this interview by Scott London does a good job of introducing some of the book’s ideas.

Kings Canyon

I just accepted a job at Kings Canyon National Park, in the southern Sierra Nevadas. I’ll be there mid-June till mid-September.

The work is through SCA, which was recommended to me by a friend at the WFR course. It only pays $60 a week – enough for groceries, I think – but the housing is free. From what I’ve been told, it’s more-or-less impossible to get a real, actually-paying job with the Forest/Park service before you’ve done some sort of volunteer or internship thing with them. So at least this way I’m getting payed something.

The idea is, if I like the work, I can get a job as a seasonal Ranger. Work the summer and bum around the rest of the year.

Dates will be posted when I know them. I’ll be driving, so some of you California people will have to offer to put me up for the night. (And then you should come visit me in the park.)

A Work of Fiction

It seems Iran is complaining about their depiction in 300.

It seeks to tell people that Iran, which is in the Axis of Evil now, has for long been the source of evil and modern Iranians' ancestors are the ugly murderous dumb savages you see in 300.

I must have missed something because, when I saw the film, the Spartans were clearly depicted as savage, inhuman barbarians.

The film-makers even drew a direct correlation between the Spartans and Timur, with their wall of corpses. If Timur wasn’t a war-mongering ass-hat, I don’t know who was.

I Am So Confused

So I was sitting here, at work, doing work stuff, when a reminder popped up. “Work in 14 minutes”. “Wait a second,” I thought “I’m already at work.” I check the calendar. I’m not supposed to be at work till 3. My (atomic) watch said it was 2:47. Time.gov agreed with it.

I’m supposed to be in class 2-3 – but I went to that class. The professor was there, my friends were there.

Was the entire class an hour early?

Will I be late to my next class?

What time is it?

Tune in next week…

Time is Overrated

I was late to my next class.

I think I need to take tomorrow off.

Living Earth Herbs

Paid a visit to Living Earth Herbs today.

They just moved up from Eugene.

I now have an Alfalfa infusion brewing on the stove.

Edible and Medicinal Plants

I’ve signed up for Wilderness Awareness School‘s Edible and Medicinal Plants course. It’s taught by John Gallagher, of Learning Herbs.

Have you ever wanted to know the plants that grow all around you? Would you like to learn how wild plants, even in cities, can both feed you and take care of your health? This informative and hands on weekend experience introduces participants to the most common and useful plants of our area through direct experiences of touching, eating, cooking, and making meals and medicines. The nature of this weekend offers a new relationship with plants--whether found in urban yards or vast wilderness--that intimately connects us to their lives while enhancing the nourishment, nutrition, and health of our own. Skills include:
  • Plant identification to confidence and safety
  • Herbal oils and salves for most minor first aid situations
  • Tincture making with wild plants for cold & flus
  • Herbal teas and infusions
  • Herbal nourishment for better daily health
  • Mineral vinegars: the ULTIMATE "vitamin"
  • Making a wild foods meal that is nutritious AND delicious
  • Poisonous plant identification
  • Herbal first aid so you can treat yourself naturally
  • AND lots of other fun herbal surprises
We will weave all these skills into a way for you to bring wild herbs into your life to enhance your health. What is seen by many as an overwhelming subject will be presented in a simple way, so you can easily access herbal wisdom on your own. There will be a good balance between class time and herbal activities. Students will go home with herbal remedies for their home first aid kits. Students will also go home with a free copy of Wild Foods for Every Table, an amazing 100 page wild foods books with delicious recipes such as sorrel soup, creamy nettle soup and spiced wildberry jelly.

For signing up early, John sent me the Herbal Remedy and Vitamin/Mineral wall charts. I recommend the Herbal Remedy chart – it’s been useful to me already.

Poets on the Peaks

John Suiter’s Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Phillip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades is a biographical account of these Beat Bards, with emphasis placed on their wilderness outings and spiritual explorations, painting them as 20th century Thoreaus.

This book – the images, the text, the characters – are beautiful. It renews the magic of this place.

A portrait of mountains and rivers and Buddha and zen and trees and poetry. America.

Backcountry Boo-Boos

Abby, one of my WFR classmates, has had a short article on the class published on page 13 of the latest issue of Cascadia Weekly.

That Ain't No Marching Band

Last night somebody setup a keyboard on the street corner and serenaded me to sleep. It didn’t sound like the guy had ever taken a piano lesson in his life, but I respect him for performing a random creative act.

A Challenge

The next time you find yourself in the forest, lay down on your belly and take a look around. Then roll onto your back and gaze at the canopy and sky.

Changing your perspective shows you a whole new collection of life.

Musings on Aid

Have you ever noticed that, with the majority of aid organizations, when you visit their website and head to their ‘Get Involved’ or ‘Help Out’ sections, they only ask for money? Or poster-ing? Perhaps, at best, they’ll give you some office work. They never actually ask for people to go overseas. Never ask for people to help distribute the supposed aid. It doesn’t quite help support the notion that these organizations are actually doing anything. They’ve got nobody in the field!

Musings on Aid, Part Two

Isn’t it strange how people get degrees in fields related to NGO work?

It reflects the attitude that aid is an industry – something permanent, instead of a sad necessity that must be temporarily pursued until governmental disputes can be settled or unfortunate weather events overcome.

The other day I met someone who was pursuing a degree in refugee assimilation. It doesn’t make sense! She will be solving no problems – only propagating old ones. (Though she will be guaranteed a steady stream of subjects.) Why not get a degree in “nonviolent conflict resolution” or, if that doesn’t pack enough umph for you, “tactical warlord disposal” or “guerrilla warfare education for refugees”. Something to cut the problem off at its source.

Fallout Shelter

Walking around town last weekend, I stumbled upon this old brick building with a “Fallout Shelter” sign on it.

Fallout Shelter

Always good to know where your local bunkers are, I suppose. I imagine the thing is a remnant from the ‘50’s or ‘60’s and that it isn’t stocked or maintained anymore. But, still, I doubt the shambling masses of the undead will be able to eat you in there.

Another possible bug-out location.

The Essential Koran

Thomas Cleary’s The Essential Koran is a sort of summarized version of the Islamic text. It consists of passages selected for the opening of Islam to the modern Western mind.

I was surprised at the lack of myth in the book. It seemed to be filled with “God is this, God is that, disbelievers are poopy.” Names were dropped (Moses, Jesus, etc) and the Garden of Eden* was given a full page, but there were no real stories – the most important aspect of any religion or believe system. I’m forced to think that this is a result of the summation, that the actual Qur’an contains more myth.

I found many disagreements in the text, though none that I think are specific of Islam. Rather, all large, organized religions seem to fall to this.

Despite the beauty of the words, it describes a life of fear. Fear of some god, some master hanging over you. Even those who claim to love and find joy in their god must consider with every action what their judge will think of them. There is no harmony in this – these tiered systems, that find a distinction between heaven and earth.

They do not comprehend anything...except as God wills.

What’s this? Are humans not sentient? You are your own being. You are god. You know as well as any what lays before you and what lays behind you.

And what is the life of the world but the stuff of deception?

How can one live so removed? How can one deny the joys and beauties and truth of life?

There is much good in Islam – kindness, benevolence, tolerance – but it is still a structure of (dank) submission. A belief that separates its followers from the Earth.

  • A note on the Garden of Eden story: this version has the fruit enlightening Adam and Eve to their bodies. It is said “and when they tasted of the tree, their shame was exposed to them; and they began to sew together leaves from the garden to cover themselves.”. Our bodies are now something to be shameful of? So much for humans shaped in the image of their God, and all that.

So Long and Thanks for all the Nectar

My honey stock is running low, and the farmer’s market doesn’t start up again till April.

Plus, the bees are running away.

I think it’s a sign.

A sort of “so long and thanks for all the fish,” but with bees.

(The dolphins chose to stay, due to new employment opportunities.)

Bury Me Standing

Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing digs past the lore of gypsy culture to find the Rom people as they really are. In her travels of Eastern Europe soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, she researches the gypsy plight – early slavery, Nazi death camps, and modern persecution. The book is depressing, but recommended for the insight into the normally closed world of Roma.

Who Needs Incense

Burning-in your newly crafted bow-drill set in the kitchen may not be agreeable to the smoke detector.

Burning In

But the cedar sure does smell nice.

Choices of Wandering

Spring Break is around the corner once more. It’s the last week of March, and I haven’t decided what to do yet. I think I have it narrowed down to two choices.

I enjoyed Oregon’s coast last year, perhaps more than the Redwoods – my actual destination – themselves. One idea is to train down to Eugene, hitch to the coast, and wander on foot from there. (I remember not liking the town that OR-126 dumps you into, but enjoying the areas north and south of it. I don’t know which direction I’d travel in.) The trouble is a shortage of time. I’d only have a few days of wandering before having to make my way back to Eugene to catch a train north.

Another idea is to do a little island hopping on the San Juans, by foot and ferry. I’m leaning toward this one. It’s closer, so I’d have more time, and the ferries are cheap for walk-ons. I’ve also already got topo-maps of the area, plus a map showing underwater depth counters, buoys and other features of the water that I’ll never need but makes me feel special to have. I would like to re-visit Orcas Island. Ray lists two free campgrounds there. I’ve also been meaning to revisit Fort Casey for two or three years now.

I was considering doing these trips by bike, instead of foot, but my bike-repair-fu is quite weak. I think it would end up being more of a hindrance than help, especially when I want to leave the roads and trails.

Trinkets of Some Use

After taking the WFR course last month, I was given a 20% off coupon at the NOLS store. So, I decided to treat myself to a few goodies.

MDI CPR Micromask. Being triple certified in CPR, it may look a little foolish if I didn’t carry a mask with me – at least on trips. This one is pocket sized, so it now lives in my right cargo pocket. It’s considered one time use because the little tube is inserted into the patient’s mouth. Masks are a better choice than those flimsy plastic sheets they sometime give you in classes for a couple reasons, the first being BSI – Body Substance Isolation. Patients have a tendency to vomit. Rescuers have a tendency not to want to eat their patients vomit. These masks do a better job of protecting you. Full masks, even better. The second reason is that the air you inhale is about 21% oxygen, but you exhale only 16%. Thus, breathing for a patient is less effective than the patient breathing for themselves. Masks help to concentrate your breath, making each of your attempts more effective. Full masks also allow your breath to enter through the nostrils.

First Aid Restock Pack. This thing includes all sorts of little goodies. Odd-and-ends that are most frequently used from your kit, and you probably neglect to replace. Plus some 2nd Skin, which is probably the single coolest first aid item available.

Patient Assessment Bandanna. Bandannas have a multitude of uses; whether to keep hair under control, wipe your hands, use as a pot holder, or even filter water. For the wilderness rescuer, the bandanna doubles as a cravat: use it tie a splint or boil it for a sterile bandage. This one has the patient assessment system on it, so when your adrenaline is pumping and you forget what the hell you’re supposed to be doing, just farce wiping your brow with this and cheat a glance at the list – without losing face with your patient or bystanders. Included on the bandanna is a fill-in-the-blank SOAP note. That little piece of crucial documentation that everybody always forgets, but will save your heiney in court.

Outdoor Survival Skills

Larry Dean Olsen’s Outdoor Survival Skills, first published in 1973, was one of the first books to rekindle interest in primitive living skills. And it is, of course, still a worthy read today. It is the only book I’ve read on the subject that discusses no modern implements. Not once is more than an acknowledgment offered to, for example, a steel knife. All of the skills described in the book are meant to be performed with absolutely nothing but what is found in Wilderness. It covers more than what Elpel discusses in Participating in Nature, but doesn’t go as in depth. Though the author, in the beginning, shows he has skills as a story teller, the book is written more as a manual. It’s use of diagrams and pictures are also lacking. But, Olsen’s creations are often more elegant than those in Elpel’s book. Perhaps it would be better titled Outdoor Living Skills.

I would recommend reading both, though between the two, study and carry Participating in Nature.


There’s nothing like a redesign to welcome Spring in (and it is Spring – I’ve seen Mosquito buzzing around and, just today, berries growing on Oregon Grape.) The inspiration hit me yesterday morning, and I whipped it up in a day. It’s a little more Web 2.0-ish, but I haven’t completely fallen to the darkside – no gradients or rounded corners.

A marked improvement from the previous design.

I twiddled my thumbs for a while, trying to think of a way to display everything that used to be in the sidebar, before I decided that it was overrated. So, you’ll now find the search box at the bottom of the page and a shiny new Archives page, brought to you by the Clean Archives Plug-in. It’s not exactly dial-up friendly, so I’ll probably fiddle with it a bit more in the future.

How do you like the “pig-monkey.com…” bit over to the right? That was totally a fluke. It wasn’t supposed to end-up there, but I thought it looked good.

As usual, I have no idea what version this is, so it’s been assigned the arbitrary number of 11. Let me know if you find any bugs. Unless you’re using Internet Explorer. I know the site looks funky in that pile of shit. (And I mean no offense to piles of shit. They’re productive members of our society.)

A Welcome Change

In a break from the usual violence, last night there was a different site out my window: a marching band! It was what seemed to be an impromptu marching band of about 7-8 people – trombones, bass sax, trumpet, drums, conductor, and the rest of it. They were talented, and amassed quite a following.

I hope they’ll be back later tonight.

Life after Gridcrash

Browsing Amazon today, looking for the usual post-apocalyptic survival books, a name jumped out at me: Aric McBay. Could it be? Yes! Aric, of In the Wake has been published! The In the Wake blog appears to be reactivated, too.

The book can be, and should be, ordered through his website.

CNN Pipeline

CNN Pipeline can be accessed for free via the following feeds:

The streams are pretty high quality. Thanks to offshorecash.net.

Participating in Nature

Participating in Nature is Thomas Elpel‘s “field guide to primitive living skills”. The book is presented as a story of the author’s wanderings throughout one day. It covers far more than primitive technology, expanding into Elpel’s environmental actions and ideas on modern, sustainable living. The primitive skills themselves are diverse – everything from bow drills to brain-tanning – and are presented in a much simpler, more digestible (yet still complete) manner than, say, David Wescott’s Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills. The chapter on plants is a succinct version of Botany in a Day, and focuses only on a small number of plants local to Elpel’s Rocky Mountain bioregion, but I found the rest of the discussions applicable here to the Pacific Northwest, with only minor exceptions.

It is an excellent beginner’s book to primitive skills and the mind-set that goes along with them, as well as a valuable reference for the more advanced.


I went walking around the Arboretum today, continuing my exploration of the destruction caused by the earlier wind storms. Some of the felled trees picked up a impressive amount of earth with them. You’re able to stick your face right in the tangled mess of roots.

The past couple weeks I’ve spent a lot of time up there, mostly looking for Cedar. The place is strangely devoid of them. Today, I finally found one – two, actually – but they’re young, and nestled in a hill that offered protection from the winds, so neither was knocked over for my harvesting.

A little further down from the Cedar, I found someone’s wallet (ID, credit cards, cash, and a key). It was a bit of a hard walk, but I was able to get it down to the police station and still make my way to class in time – the class I wasn’t skipping. The police dispatcher said she’d give the wallet’s owner a call, which I was impressed with. I thought they’d just hold on to it until he called. If I lost anything up there, I would never expect anyone to find it, and probably wouldn’t call the cops.


Last Monday, the mailperson brought me a new t-shirt.

Put The Fun Between Your Legs

I also bought a patch to sew on it.

No Sense of Decency



Can’t they just leave it dead?

If they want to make a movie sequel about hacking, why not do it with Tron?


Eddy Joe Cotton’s Hobo is the fast paced adventure of a young runaway turned train rider. The rapid growth and maturity of the author tricks one into assuming a large lapse of time, when in fact the book spans only a few weeks of his life. I didn’t enjoy the whole book, nor did I find it to be one of the better books penned by a Hobo. I think his love for the state of Nevada played a role in this. He focuses on many of the things which disgust me about the state. That said, Cotton’s short journey on the road is peppered with many insights into the America of the early 90’s and plays host to many an interesting character.


I have need to convert a bunch of AVI files to FLV. FFmpeg does the job, but I wanted to do whole directories at a time – plus different directories have different video dimensions and different fps. So, last night I hacked flvconvert.pl, a quick and dirty perl script to convert specified avi files to flv.

Usage: perl flvconvert.pl [OPTIONS] [FILES] Options: --size Specify video size. Defaults to 320x240 if none specified. --fps Specify frames per second. Defaults to 15 if none specified. --thumb Create a jpeg from the first frame Example: perl flvconvert.pl file1.avi file2.avi video/* perl flvconvert.pl --size 640x480 --fps 30 file.avi

Transient Ways

Jessica Han’s Transient Ways concerns itself with stories of travel, trains, and squats. Unlike Off the Map, this book’s writing is amateur, the stories have no cohesion, and the author presents herself as mildly egotistical. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. The tales are entertaining – enticing in their simplicity. Jessica shows promise as a writer, but is no Kerouac.

Jessica is also featured in the excellent hobo documentary Catching Out.


And seeing the snail, which everywhere doth roam, Carrying his own house still, still is at home, Follow (for he is easy pac'd) this snail, Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail.

John Donne


Robert Anton Wilson died on the 11th. Why am I only hearing of this now? It should have been much bigger news.


UPS delivered my so-called “Moroccan” glass candle lanterns today. Two for $9, straight from the Bay of E.


I just purchased my first album from Magnatune: Falling You’s Human. It’s a pretty cool idea. You can pay whatever you want. All they ask for is a credit card, name, and email – no addresses, phone numbers, or any of that. They give me a username and password, and I can download the album in whatever format I want. Now I can give the album away to 3 people.

One Burnt Noodle Set Off the Smoke Detector

But not the fire alarm.

They better not expect me to evacuate during my dinner.

Cold Water Immersion

The next time you’re immersed in cold water, remember:

  1. You have 1 minute to control your breathing
  2. You have 10 minutes of useful movement
  3. You have 60 minutes till you're dead

(c/o Dr. Popsicle.)

Update: http://youtube.com/watch?v=5gOW8ZaYqHA

Everybody Loves a Medic

The 10-day WFR course was a lot more intense than I expected. The course schedule is available online, for the curious. As you can see, there’s a multitude of different topics covered every day, plus a fair amount of nightly reading. Short (30-60 min) scenarios are interspersed between lectures. There were a little under 30 students and two different teachers, both W-EMT, who would alternate between lecture topics. The lectures themselves are in a relaxed format. In addition to the textbook, students are provided with a workbook, referred to as the hymnal. The hymnal summarizes all the topics and provides the notes you’d normally be jotting down during lecture. There are two big scenarios throughout the course, the MCI and Night Rescue.

The Mass Casualty Incident, or MCI, is a 2 hours (or so) scenario designed to give students the experience of managing multiple patients with limited resources. I was a patient for this one, and unconscious for about half of it, but the main emphasis seemed to be on managing rescuer stress and deciding evac orders. (There was only one helicopter, so only one pt could be evaced at a time.)

The Night Rescue mission is definitely the high-light of the course. Sadly, we all took an oath of secrecy, so as not to rob future WFR-ers of the experience. I can relate to you the weather, though: temperatures hovered above freezing, with snow forecast, but instead a downpour of rain and wind gusts of 30-40mph. I’ll also say that I’m now completely justified in packing my silponcho and wearing paracord bracelets.

Overall impression of the course is two thumbs up. I’d do it all over again. In fact, I’m disappointed that the re-cert class I’ll be taking in two years is only 3 days, not 10.

Note To Self

Paracord bracelets save lives.