Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
you're the very definition
But I looked it up.
of taking on,
an attitude or mode
of behavior not genuinely felt,
not very nice to say.
I want to say though,
It's lovely when you do it.
Because I thought about it,
and even though this wasn't
what I meant to say,
it's what I mean.
Aren't you the one who told me?
That you used to be so full of it, that
you never really listen?
Well, I don't care.
It's beautiful when you do it.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
a meteor shower
in the headlights.
It burns cold
down our skin
into the earth.
I am so sad right now,
for everything excess.
Pain not needed,
balms we're too
lazy to apply.
Winter comes to
make the rain
colder into ash.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Watching Jeremiah Johnson made me certain of two things; how badly I wish not to be a mountain man, and how bad I want to get back into the mountains. I think this applies to most things I enjoy in life.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Ahh yes, finally back in my woodland woodsman’s paradise. Living in harmony with nature, only a tarp overhead, separated from the forest by only the sheerest of mosquito nets, the simplest of cots. Yes, now that I’ve had a couple days to settle nerves in town, in a hotel room- snug but somewhat disturbed by the incessant staccato death-rattle apnea that is my father sleeping, I am finally ready to test out my brand new cot for a true night’s rest. The visit was nice, family is family, but the woods are calling. Ok, let’s tidy up in here to make room for this thing.
Excellent. With some deft maneuvering, clever repackaging of stinking clothes, and the temporary piling of my enormous military sleeping bag in one corner, I unfold my brand-spanking cot (result of relatively un-protested goading by my father) and slip in the four springy steel legs on either side, just like stringing a bow. Lovingly, I gently adjust the straps (2) to retain my sleeping pads (2) and make sure he therm-a-rest^tm is sufficiently inflated (but not too much). I am treating myself to all the posh amenities. Damn, this thing really is comfy! Wow. My life is a success. After a brief wrestle I finally pin the billowing black sleeping sack into place, and put the final flourishes on my little abode: tuck this here, slide those under the cot, adjust this strap, get this in arms reach, adjust the ballast securing the border of the mozzie netting (everything from sticks to sandals, batteries, carabiners, dry bags)…yes, yes, very nice.
I am seated, entirely at ease, thinking about my mild hunger, whether or not I should eat some more, and what a pleasant night’s sleep I have in store for myself. I am tickled pink OH DEAR GOD WHAT IN HE HELL IS THAT SOUND?
I hear what I can only assume is the world’s saddest pack of dogs experiencing ‘roid-rage at the full moon. It is probably a werewolf. Or six. I feel for my four-inch diving knife. It is pointy, black, and very sturdy. I fondle and caress it, memorizing its new, convenient location in the side-pocket of the cot. The howls, obscenely, unbelievably, redouble in effort. Sphincters I did not know I had tighten within. My stomach becomes a pit of venom, and I fear there is a viper in there.
I have heard Coyote before. I have slept in the desert, in the mountains, near their mourning. I found them my brethren, the only other soulful creatures in desolate miles, the nearest life miles from any town. I have pondered their tracks by my tent on cold dewy morns. But even though I am a hop-skip-and-jump from the trucks heard passing on the highway, only a few yards from my motorcycle or a hearty wind-sprint away from the neighbor’s, this is not that, and I think I might die. SCREAMING BANSHEES! I rush outside, mosquitoes be damned, and find my hatchet. One part razor and one part meat tenderizer on a 17 inch shaft of steel , I seize the Nylon handle as if it is a helicopter, and I am dangling one-handed 500 feet over the waters surrounding the (insert tragic WWII ship-shark incident here).
AOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOO! The hounds of hell are unleashed. Ok, I can handle this. As I have done with scary forest noises in the past, I try to reassure myself with the thought that I was already kind-of ambivalent about being alive anyhow. That is why I am up here all alone, with my two-foot tall stack of books, and a couple of notepads. The howling changes locations, which is at first disconcerting but as I sense a greater distance I feel some relief. I begin to ponder how absolutely incredibly fast this rushing pack of horror has covered great distance over tough terrain. The hair rises on the back of my neck, but the noises taper off and become sort-of beautiful before disappearing. I figure we will be transitioning from desperate panting to full breaths any minute now, and in six or seven hours I will be able to lie down and contemplate the meaning of sleep.
OH NO. No, no, not right. The screams of the damned are now ricocheting across the trees of nearby forest, and as my heart-rate crests 200 BPM I pass beyond techno levels of fear into an unheard of zone of pounding terror. The all-singing nerves of my being and the gallons of norepinepherine seeping into my brain make it clear: on a biological level, I very much want to keep living.
I bolt upright, and clumsily fumble for more flashlights, trying to peer periodically through the milky, cloudy, can-only-see-four-feet in-front-of-me netting. I am about as coordinated as a puppy after six shots of espresso. Something runs through the forest, not too close, but not too far away. FIRE. Fire, I will make fire. BIG FIRE. I think of wolf movies and Jack London. I envision bonfires and funeral pyres. Big over-arching, crackling, inextinguishable, sparking, popping fire. I keep fumbling, still clumsy with fear, for a lighter. I cannot find a goddamn lighter. I know I have packed like 17 fucking BICs and three days ago I went through and carefully noted the location of at least six of them but rightnow Iamreallyfuckingscared notfeelingsuperwoodsmanly andmybrainismadeofadrenaline FIREFIREFIRE…
It is the happiest I have ever been to see a light-blue BIC. In my life. Oh my god. It is a religious experience, to gingerly handle this idol, this conjuring cylinder. I thumb the action and hear the reassuring hiss, see the spark, the glow of life rocket forth magically- and the hiss stops. The light dies. The lighter is impotent. I try again, no hiss. Push the button. No hiss. None at all. TRY againandagainandagain, shaking the thing like hell. OUT OF FUEL? OHNO. But I look MORE CLOSELY (more closely) and see (aha!) it is plugged with lint. I am happy I lost my nail clippers along with the other 16 lighters as I gingerly fish out a massive ball of lint with my pinky. The lint alone, if set on fire, should keep ravenous mutant wolves at bay at least 15 seconds. The lighter is lit, and I am mesmerized with love. Whoosh, rasp, fssht. I pocket it and pat tenderly, like it is a brownie wrapped in a napkin, or perhaps a tiny beloved baby kangaroo. I take up the hatchet again, having not even realized I’d momentarily relieved my white-knuckle grasp, and head the few feet toward the campfire.
I tear dead branches from nearby trees, pile scraps of cardboard, birch bark, dried pine bark, into a big heap. Flammable debris fills the well-used, burned-out basin of my fire ring, and I set it ablaze. I scramble hither and dither taking up sticks, logs, chunks of wood, more dead branches still hung from trees. It all goes into the pile, quickly at first, but as the fire grows enough to blow its own breeze through nearby trees, I slow down, become more cautious, design a fire that will burn for hours. Of course, without a proper woodpile, and without sitting by to add a log every hour, by midnight the fire will be out. Even though I am pretty sure it isn’t true, I convince myself the noise I’m making now, coupled with the recent presence of fire and still-warm embers, will keep the night terrors at bay. I sit down heavily, sigh. The crackle and soaring cinders, the steady flickering halo, is beautiful like a tender, warm massage.
Things are running around in the nearby forest. The trees are making animal-like noises overhead. I can’t tell if it’s just from the hot updraft of the campfire. Noises, from every direction. The whole fucking forest is coming to life, like I just lit a fire under its ass. Great.
I hear what I am pretty sure is squirrels running around. They are vocal, sound frisky, and they are moving at a bracing clip somewhat toward me from out by the clear-cut. I think of that true-story where a squirrel makes an attempt on a motorcyclist’s life and then assaults a pair of police officers. It seems less funny, now. I ponder my own troubling experiences with squirrels; that one time they clawed through the solid aluminum birdfeeder, their little razor teeth, their nimble little legs.
Some sort of small bird is cooing. I pile on another two logs and retreat to the shelter. I find a chunk of pine and wrist-snap the hatchet into it, burying the tip of the head. This new ornamental/functional paperweight gets a privileged right-hand position right next to the cot, handle facing for a quick grab. Good. I lay down partially and allow myself to begin to hope.
BAD. The cooing bird sounds to be replicating, and either a pair of frogs or a jumping mouse joins the million mosquitoes to test the integrity of my netting. I know from experience, frogs are more haphazard, the mice are quick, and jump high, and they never test the same place twice. Like Velociraptors. But tiny, and kind of cute. And still totally something that will keep me awake all night.
Oh well, I think to myself, as another coyote howls from a nearby hill. I ponder the electric fox-resistant fences from Rachel Carson Wildlife Preserve and decide the gaps are too big to resist jumping mice but it would probably be nice to have for coyotes and cyborg death demons from outer space (I am still pretty certain both are lurking somewhere in these coastal woods of Maine).
I think of the scene from Jurassic Park, where the Australian game warden shouts “SHOOT HER!!!” and ponder the cold, hard integrity of the granite fort Knox, just down the road, reassuring myself that if I survive and have any life left tomorrow, I will sneak down and see if I can camp in one of the powder storerooms with the heavy oak doors. Is there radon in century-old underground strongholds? Since when am I a hypochondriac? I'm living alone in the woods, climbing trees and playing with sharp things and heavy machinery, for chrissake. I'm beginning to lose it...
I am exhausted, and even though I slap at the jumping mouse and bellow in frustration, I think it takes the gestures for some kind of game. It hops friskily against the mesh as I bat out with less and less enthusiasm, eventually resigning myself to saying “Boo!” and shaking the cot or even just resentful stares.
Finally the mouse either tires and goes to sleep or moves on to torture some other homesteader, because eventually I am only left with the flutter and chitter of small birds. No, wait, that’s not birds anymore, there’s just more mice now. Oh well, I’m tired and it’s kind of soothing. Just no more attacking the netting, and no more eating my toilet paper, OK guys? Coo away.
The fire is only embers now, it pops sporadically, dying. I feel pretty secure about my own life, and grope back for the hatchet. Good. Te mice raise their tiny voices to a miniature frenzy, and flirt madly through the brush, leaving me with only sounds of gravity in the slowly decaying and growing forest, the background noise of the constant flux of renewal. Sigh. Mice will be mice. Please, though, mystery creatures (logically, I know you are probably just coyotes)- no more death cries, a least for tonight, -kay?
A lone owl hoots me blissfully asleep. Till next time.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Over time many flames of many paths down my cheeks
the fire worked from hate
You are t started fire and anger
But it is
for me to end in
away, my purpose is to bear the burdens of the world
el that my suffering is worth the little bit of happiness it brings others
But as time passes it becomes more that I am the carcass fed to the wolves
They destroy me and I nourish them
but I can only satisfy their hunger for a short period of time
When I am done being consumed, I am left with massive wounds
on I will be healing and regenerated to thrown to the wolves again
who created this
who suffers from it
as sp the p
process has gotten much harder
now I am fed upon before I am ready
is a never-ending, forever self-diminishing process.
My heart really goes out to whoever wrote this. On the back is written the address for Port Authority and a bunch of bus times, so hopefully this person found their happiness somewhere else. Lord knows, the halls of Monroe Woodbury isn't the place for that. The letter is so garbled because it was torn into a lot of pieces, then run through the laundry. I don't really remember the details of how I came across it, why I picked up the pieces, etc. I think the laundering was my own damn fault, I forgot about it in a pants pocket for a long time, and came across it while working at Repro-Med. I tried to piece it together when I first rediscovered it, but didn't have the time. I found the pieces in a zip-lock today and finally took the time to puzzle the pieces out. It's even more heartbreaking when you put it together than it was lying in scraps on the floor. Maybe I'll post a picture at some point. Very post-secret-esque.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
1 Kawasaki KLR motorcycle.
2 cases hard luggage.
1 large waterproof duffle (or maybe my camp duffle with garbage bags)
1 rigger's hatchet
2 folding knives
1 spade trowel
1 set of tools
1 tire patching kit
1 mill bastard file
1 diamond file
1 small pack
1 sleeping bag
1 bivouac sack
1 nylon tarp
2 pair sturdy pants
1 pair shorts
3 longsleeve shirts
4 pair socks
1 pair boots
1 pair sandals
1 warm hat
1 light hat
1 p&s still camera
1 p&s video camera
2 write-in-rain notebooks
1 pack mechanical pencils
1 standalone data unit
1 medical kit
1 mess kit
1 longblade knife
1 water purifier
1 jar water tablets
1 collapsible water jug
1 aluminum water bottle
1 jew's harp
1 roll parachute cord
1 length of rope
1 GPS unit
3 lighters, 2 boxes matches
2 small containers of DEET
1 container afterbite
1 stick sunscreen
to purchase in Maine:
-1 dutch oven, cast-iron frying pan
-1 plastic tarp
-1 swedish bow saw
to have shipped to Maine:
30 books, 5 notebooks
maybe some climbing gear
Saturday, April 17, 2010
An important question nowadays is "How important is your online presence?" While the worth of that presence may vary from individual to individual, it has and will continue to appreciate on average. In such case, as society values your time online more and more, you too will begin to weight your online activities with increasing worth, and in exchange, you'll be forced to shed "real-world" commitments. This is happening. Such is evolution.
Some people fear the harm that the internet will cause. They suggest it allows dangerous anonymity, or that it encourages us to act upon our baser immoral urges, or that it allows rampant stupidity. Some people think all of this, and also fear the collapse of society's moral underpinnings in the form of proper speling.
There has been strong outcry, even in ostensibly web-hip circles, against gleamd (a flop based on voting for people's biographies) and especially Unvarnished (the popularity jury is still out on this anonymous person-reviewing site, like a cross-breed between yelp and ratemyteacher). Some have gone so far as to say that a whistle-blower, such as Sherron Watkins of Enron fame, might get thrashed unfairly on such a site by the people she un-anonymously thrashed herself. There is concern that it will turn into a youtube-comment-style anonymous trollfest. I cannot speak to the worthiness of Unvarnished and similar people-rating sites, but I can say that the negative backlash speaks volumes more about the insecurities of web-dwellers than it does about the viability of these ideas.
My response is:
In the case of a whistle-blower, they are neglecting the important variable of time. If a person receives numerous positive reviews, and then is suddenly viewed tremendously negatively, it will raise the obvious question of "Why the sudden change?" And if a whistleblower goes from absent web presence to tremendous public thrashing in the blink of an eye, the transparency of a web-based system should allow that cause-and-effect to be much more apparent than through traditional means. The media is notorious for often championing the wrong guy, and with the short memory of most people, there is no track-record of accountability if they change their story.
The very source-permanence and anonymity being feared are keystones to effective whistle-blowing. With the "history" of web-based systems, it is much easier to build genuine credibility, because an independent source can average accuracy and popularity over time, and a curious auditor can handily check the source's records. Indeed, the meta-auditing options are endless, as not only Google but anyone can create a cache of a public web page for future reference, and automated systems can seek discrepancy against the source's own history and also against alternative sources. Fox news has no "reliability indicator" displayed on top of every broadcast, and the results of their attempts at accuracy look bleak.
Wikipedia has been shown competitive with Britannica in the accuracy of scientific articles. I expect accuracy to improve as a new world order evolves, and the power players in the digital realm are those who organize information (Google, Facebook, Wikipedia) not those who create it. It is astonishing how critical people are of something that has been around for only about 20 years. We will sort out the problems of the net, but like all things worthwhile, it is going to take time and effort.
Granted, I am making two sweeping assumptions: People are generally good; that is, they want the best for other people so long as it is unlikely to be self-detrimental. And, systems can be developed to nurture and capitalize on this human disposition.
Are people really good?
There are paradoxes of human nature, namely: You don't trust hundreds of anonymous web-surfers, but you do trust hundreds of drivers sitting in two-ton steel cages. You won't believe in the average of their anonymous reviews, but you will trust in much less data when choosing a mechanic, dentist, or doctor. People are often afraid that they will be the sole victim of a fluke event, such as a terrorist bombing, and are therefore willing to create a vastly overscaled response, such as TSA security, to a minor threat. Similarly, we carefully check Halloween candy each October although poison and razor blades are statistically nonexistent.
Alas, a tremendous amount of trust is inherent in our social structure. You generally do not fear your neighbor will pipe-bomb you, or that mischievous youths will cut your brakes while you are shopping. We only allow ourselves to fear the fluke, one-in-a-million events, because those are the only ones we can pretend to have control over. Even though automobile accidents are a common and spectacular source of violence, we happily pile ourselves and our children into our cars because the alternative of pedestrianism is so… pedestrian. If neighbors really did routinely pipe-bomb each other, chances are the majority of us would adapt to the new situation handily, as people generally do emotionally adapt, surprisingly so, to wars and catastrophes.
A glorious thing about evolution is that it tidily invents solutions to intractable problems. Solutions like the apparent hard-wiring of our brains not to be completely independent, but rather almost entirely social and cooperative. Each morning, we wake up and go to work, instead of buying a gun, and shooting our neighbors for their money and possessions in a massive free-for-all of destruction. Even when the chances of punishment are negligible, our hard-wiring somehow forbids us from all but the most minor of indiscretions, because we subconsciously know there is a greater scorecard being kept. It is to our own advantage that we all follow the rules.
The only catch, then, is whether we can be sufficiently clever to reinforce these social imperatives in the digital realm, and whether that realm can be put to work shoring up the gaps in our self-policing. Namely, can we prevent dictators and psychopaths, and perhaps most important of all, can we fight the tendency to accept something because it is and has been; things like: global warming, war, pollution, overpopulation, and wretched life conditions?
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” –Helen Keller