Passing gas. Kicking ass. Walking the roads less traveled. All for positive change.
First and foremost I apologize for not updating this in a while. An update on what happened on the expedition I said I’d attempt last time is coming. That and an explanation for the delay.
In the mean time a totally non expedition related post. As you folks know I’m a fanatical distrohopper and tinkerer.
Now those of you not completely dumbed down by prolonged windows use know that software/package management is actually a very interesting/complicated/subtle craft that way too many operating systems and package managers completely fuck up. Yes yum, zypper, urpmi, portage, equo, slackpkg, slapt-get, pkg_*, apt-rpm I’m looking at you. As for windows software/package management there if you can even call it that is anarchy. Well okay that’s not strictly true but it’s far from a lie.
There are three package managers that stand out in that they don’t immediately wanna kill myself. APT(which incidentally barely qualifies to be listed here as it’s a hacked together piece of shit, but compared to the competition…), MacPorts, and Pacman. Now Pacman which is arguably the best of them all while awesome had one very big security problem: lack of package signing. Thankfully that’s very very recently changed. However a couple of years ago before that the whole thing didn’t sit too well with a dude named Miklos Vajna who decided for various reasons to make a Slackware fork. Now slackpkg is a disgrace. No dependency resolution whatsoever and kind of slow because it’s a shell script. Vajna needed a good package manager for Frugalware as he called his new distro. Thus he looked to Pacman. He made a fork called Pacman-G2 which had package signing. Also contributed some other patches to help improve Pacman nice guy that he was. Arch unlike Slackware accepted his contributions. Good to see badasses get their due respect once in a while.
Anyway I recently found in APT what is at best poor documentation and at worst a bug depending on how you look at it(long story, if you care look up “aptitude purge <package> recursively removes but does not purge <package>”). Hopefully the devs will implement my suggestions. Back to the point afterwards I started going on one of my geek out sessions looking at how some package managers work and at times even auditing some relevant source code(granted with limited understand as due to their sheer size auditing source archives of modern programs is no easy task).
So the next thing I know I’m playing around with FwLive XFCE Edition, Frugalware’s live CD. Frugalware is a very interesting distro with a nice simple/sane way of doing things and I’m glad I got to play with it. It has a lot of promise and look out for it reaching Debian’s level of popularity. Now pacman-g2 is very similar to pacman but not exactly as I soon found out. I thus go looking for the man page. OK the live CD doesn’t have. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s something to do with conserving space on the live CD but then there were like 250 more megabytes free. At any rate when you don’t have the relavent man page you use Google or DuckDuckGo. You can find the man page to just about anything that way. Anything except pacman-g2. Granted Frugalware is a fringe distro and certainly isn’t as known as say Ubuntu, but you’d think there’d be a man page online somewhere. No luck. Thus in a wild attempt to get the man page I ran “pacman-g2 -Syy && pacman-g2 -Su && pacman-g2 -S pacman-g2”. Finally I hit paydirt. Of course then I was thinking since nobody else posted it online why not I? Perhaps it can help someone. But where to post it? I hardly have write permissions to manpagez.com:/var/www. Thus I temporarily gave up on the idea partly because a good distro maintainer takes a hint from the likes of FreeBSD and has well written colorful man pages on their site.
Now today as usual I was on distrowatch.com(check that thing several times a day). Every Monday the DistroWatch Weekly comes out. Usually the main story is a review of some distribution. Todays featured distro…
Thus I took that as a hint from fate. One “man pacman-g2 | cat -” later I have a nice set of text to copy-paste. Without further ado here is a much needed man page.
Today I got sentimental and was thinking about the Great Saunter which I walked last year where I was a top 10 finisher out of about 1000 people. For some reason I decided to google(shame on me, but then I use DuckDuckGo most of the time so I can’t feel too guilty) Michael Pellagatti the dude that finished alongside me. Saw that he was also an Occupier and am trying to get back in touch via nycga.net and catch up.
The next thing I know I find myself on my fake facebook account which I today use on a rare occasion to gather intelligence and keep up with what other people are doing. After looking at Michael’s profile a bit I find myself randomly surfing Facebook. The next thing I know I’m randomly looking at David Campbell’s profile. By the way the David Campbell to which I here refer is the one of Sasuke/Ninja Warrior Fame. He is beyond badass.
Anyway what do I see? I see him publicly admit to watching iCarly again.
I can see the reactions on your faces now. David Campbell? The badass? iCarly? And what do you mean again?
To answer your questions let me backtrack a bit to late March 2010. That was back before I left facebook over freedom of speech issues(privacy issues also, but I guess but that’s not as big a deal namely because I think twice before posting to the internet). Anyway having been as much a fan of Sasuke then as I am now I was looking at you guessed it David Campbell’s profile. And what do I see? Something that nearly makes me fall out of my chair:
Click the photo to see it in full size. Seeing is as they say believing. Also take a moment to revel in the beauty of Linux Mint 8 arguably the greatest operating system ever created except for maybe Debian. RIP Linux Mint 8. RIP GNOME 2. You will be sorely missed. Also take a look at how I tweaked my desktop and just how flexible GNOME 2 was. Sadly GNOME 3 while good once you get what they’re trying to do with it is not quite my thing and sucks for other reasons I won’t go into. Mint’s main line went bad after 8 because it kept on following Ubuntu which turned it’s back on the principles that made it great by vainly trying to imitate the Mac, putting features ahead of stability, freezing on my machine, and assuming that everyone uses a touch screen.
Also what do you guys think of how I pimped my desktop? Looking back it’s quite amazing how cluttered my old desktop was and yet in spite of it quite elegant. Nowadays instead of having just about every widget you care to name I now have very minimalistic style after being deeply inspired/influenced by CrunchBang 10. No longer do I click on the hundreds of icons you see. Keybindings baby! So fast and efficient <3. So much so that I almost never touch the trackpad these days let alone use a USB mouse like I used to at the time…
Anyway getting back to the point. If anyone before that came up to me and told me that David Campbell would publicly admit to watching iCarly I’d have told them I’d cut my arm off if that happens. When I see this I just have a profound HOLY SHIT moment. Like never in my life would I have thought I would see that. It showed me that even the most unlikely things can come to pass and that anything is possible. My other thoughts on the matter I will communicate with this screenshot I took sometime later of how that particular thread of conversation continued and ended:
Again click on the picture to see in full resolution.
It deeply inspired me on so many levels and gave me something to laugh about for ages to come. One of my top 3 moments of 2010.
And yes to those of you still in disbelief those screenshots are genuine. I don’t watch iCarly anymore these days because I feel the show has largely ran out of ideas. The only recent exception to this is iStillPsycho which was actually quite good and the only iCarly episode I’ve watched in like a year(seriously you people have got to love how Gibby was still stuck in the chimney at the end). Nonetheless I watched it at the time and yes I was at the age of 18 and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Anyway fast forward to now. What do I see? That’s right he says it again:
Again people look and see for yourselves. This time the top of the screenshot has been cropped out first and foremost to keep my fake Facebook identity hidden so that I can’t be specifically blocked by anyone and continue using it as an intelligence tool. Also a comment someone made in the thread above has adult content not relevant to this that I censored out.
Ah those were the days. They almost(but not quite) make me miss facebook. Those two screenshots are the only relics of it I have. But then considering what it does to both free speech and privacy… Good bye and good riddance. My only presence on it now is the fake account I set up for intelligence gathering. Even then I don’t use it often as I feel sleazy for having anything to do with it whatsoever because it almost feels like I’m going back on my principles. Contrary to what you may think I don’t feel that guilty for using it in an intelligence capacity because nobody forced anyone to post anything I may find out from there. If people voluntarily let loose all this juicy information about themselves far be it from me to deny them. The issue at hand is more of I may possibly be going back on my principles for convenience in the activity of intelligence gathering which is otherwise a normal human desire.
Anyway that instance of the impossible is just the dose of inspiration I need to do something impossible. That and the fact that Patrick Falterman started following this blog. I am simply beyond flattered.
Patrick Falterman for those of you who don’t know is more badass than badassery itself. This guy is arguably the hitchhiker of hitchhikers. At the age of 19 he got fed up with the University+two dull jobs all for who knows what. He wanted out. So what does he do he goes on one of the most epic hitchhiking journeys ever undertaken. Before he turned 20 this guy has illegally crossed several borders standing up for human rights everywhere, and hitched the Darien Gap which is a tough nut to crack by anyones accounts. This other time he got caught by some Bolivian anti-narcotics forces trying to illegally swim across a river into Brazil. He had to flee to Peru to avoid deportation back here. He helped victims of the earthquake in Chile. He nearly died of thirst in the Atacama desert. He hit Tierra Del Fuego. So much other stuff I won’t even get into partly because I haven’t read it properly yet myself. I’ve actually been working on reading it chronologically. He found me via one of my comments on there. He also writes long blog posts much like myself. Some things you just can’t cram into a sentence. He is currently attempting to raft down the Amazon river. The only thing that would be more impressive in that regard was done by Martin Strel who SWAM the whole damn thing. Check out his story. You’ll be glad you did. The guy is only 21 years of age. 1.25 years older than me. Yet his deeds will be sung about for decades to come. Also unlike me he’s brave. He literally does everything in the most dangerous way he can get away with. A daredevil among daredevils, something I’ll never be.
Anyway he commented on the About page and advised me to do the Albany expedition instead of the smaller ones and take several shots at it if I fail the first few times. He’s right. You learn better by biting off more than you can chew than taking many little piss-ant bites leading who knows where. I need to take on a hard challenge again and see what I’m made of if I have any sort of hope of doing this.
Thus this Thursday when I have the opportunity to actually possibly get away for a few days I just may try it. I’m REALLY tempted to do this. I read that Broadway goes all the way up to Albany. It’s not exactly true but with a bit of modifications I was able to plot out a route.
That or perhaps something more realistic like walking to Staten Island’s southern tip and back which is still a little over 100 miles as opposed to like 300. I still haven’t even passed the camp test yet and frankly going north in the winter isn’t the brightest idea. Furthermore in case of anything I can retreat back home with relative ease(not too much mind you SI is rather isolated, NJ is better but I don’t know by how much). Using actual transportation makes the distance the Staten Island’s southern tip much less than 50 miles.
Even the walk to Staten Island’s southern tip will be biting off more than I can chew so what Patrick says still applies.
It’s high fucking time to go out there and do something impossible. Take Jason, one of the Occupiers that walked from NYC to DC, he said a lot of the marchers were way under prepared and yet they still somehow made it. I managed to get to talk to him btw. Very interesting conversation but words can only go so far. Time to act. He mentioned also that he may donate my some equipment…
Also on Saturday February 18 another group of Occupiers will set out for a coast to coast walk. They will walk to NYC and then to DC. Again words cannot describe the respect I have for fellow walktivists. They may not be rich. They may not be well prepared but they are doing amazing and necessary things and they will get help from many supporters. I need to follow suit as well. Hopefully this will bottstrap me into people’s radar.
I also recently got my new glasses. They’re progressive lenses. I was told people usually get them after 40 or so. If I continue this trend of wasting away at my computer I’ll be walking around with a guide dog soon. Just give it 10 years. I will not use the better vision I now have to sink my eyes. I want to see the world and I will use them for precisely this. Period.
On Thursday nothing short of breaking my leg will stop me from setting out and doing this. I don’t how I’ll do this given that I don’t exactly have the resources I need or deserve.
But rest assured there is hope of pulling this off. Less likely things have come to pass. We do after all live in a world where David Campbell has publicly admitted to watching iCarly.
Haven’t posted for quite a while but lots of news. If only I could say the same for progress…
Regarding the November assault on the multiday barrier
As I mentioned before the plan for November was to sleep the first 15 days on the floor and the next 15 outside to break the multiday barrier. Sadly the multiday barrier has other plans…
The first 11 nights of November I slept on the floor. Some nights its was very rough others I got a pretty decent rest. The night of the 12th which was supposed to be my 12th night my discipline broke.
Basically the night before that was very rough and quite cold. Very brutal. As a part of the exercise I slept with the windows opened full to better acclimatize myself to the cold and the second half of the month where the real challenge was. Later that day not only was I tired but I was hit by a wave of depression over various perhaps silly things which you’ll probably laugh about as you read.
I had this weird feeling on the bottom of my right quad just like I had on my left when the hemangioma was there(it’s happened before that occasion and since but that day it was strongest of all). It’s hard to even explain if you haven’t experienced such a thing first hand but the feeling is basically one of oh god please not again this can’t be.
Likely it was all in my head. I did get quite messed up by the whole thing. PTSD I suppose. But what if it was real? There was little I could do but suffer until it got as bad as my left leg and got to the point where the benefits of removal outweighed the risk as again hemangiomas are benign tumors. Frankly I knew the odds were very low as again intramuscular hemangimas are quite rare. Generally hemangiomas are on the skin and on the head and go away on their own. What are the odds after all of there being another one at the same exact spot in the other leg… But at the same time if it happened once whose to say it can’t happen again? My grandpa had severe nosebleeds caused not by exactly the same but a similar problem. Also I came here from Belarus when I was five, and lets not forget which nation wound up taking a very good chunk of the radioactive assbeating resulting from the events of Chernobyl. The Belarussian people’s health is still affected by that to this day. So could it be? What if, what if, what if? And in the worst case scenario there was little I could do but wait and suffer for years…
Also due to way too much time spent hunched over books and computers who are the main culprit I noticed that day just how much my vision had got worse and it just depressed me. This was a gradual process of course but that was the day that the sum of the parts really hit me. I want to see the world while I can you know actually see. It just saddened me. It scared me. To be blind or bad of vision is to be vulnerable. Then I went on another worrying frenzy. Will I be able to see just enough to get by let alone thrive? And if yes what’s the point? There’s more to life than getting by. Will I be able to survive? Will I be able to provide myself insurance or since insurance is quite the ripoff be able to get needed surgery and/or glasses by other means. Just like a lot of pessimism for the future. I know it sounds almost laughable but like you go into this cycle of depression and worry that just keeps getting worse and worse. I know its funny the way I say it partly because these things are hard to describe try as I might. But believe me it’s not so funny when you’re experiencing it.
My parents of course weren’t thrilled I was sleeping on the floor the past while and were trying to get me to sleep in bed and give up on everything. Normally I ignored the bullshit but that day they said something about taking a day off and that everyone needs it. It sounded like it was in a somewhat different spirit than before and I thought for once they spoke sense. So that night and the next(I had important things to do early that morning) I slept in bed. Breaking discipline sucked but I knew I probably needed to. A good nights sleep cleared a lot of the useless worry bullshit from my head and I felt just about normal again.
The next three nights on the floor went without incident. On what was supposed to be the last night I failed. I don’t know why. I can’t even pinpoint the reason myself. At the end I was like damn fuck it. No more floor. I’ll take it outside I’ve already been delayed enough…
Also not only were my plans delayed but deferred. The initial plan was Marine Park 5 nights, OWS/Zuccotti Park 5 nights, random location 5 nights. Sadly Bloomberg decides to attack the camp with no justification whatsoever on the 15th. I have more to say on OWS and it ain’t all pretty but that’s for later…
Anyway fast forward to the actual point where I take things outside. I start off by going back to my old favorite camping spot in the center of the track in Marine Park. All in all dressing in layers(yes pants also, awkward as that may be)/warm clothes and a tarp for waterproofing is not half bad combination. Just add in thermal socks and you’re not that badly off.
Like I’m not even sure why I failed or what went wrong but I haven’t been able to so much as last one night outside.
Like maybe the first night I should have worn warm/thermal socks. Learned my lesson there fast. 5 dollars later I was back in business.
One night it was raining. At first it was fine but after a while rain started leaking in. My arm got wet even through my jacket. I must if possible position my tarp to better hold off the water… All in all the same mistake I made in my previous summer attempts before I was brought down by the hemangioma.
I just couldn’t fall asleep. No clue why. I certainly wasn’t cold but neither can I say that I felt warm and protected. There were times I may have come close to falling asleep(and hopefully in such a way that I wake up again rested in a few hours). But sadly it was not to be…
Perhaps it was the cars and the people surrounding the rectangle containing the elliptic track…
Speaking of people there were times those passed through as well. Obviously that’s generally bad in these situations. But then this is NYC hard to find good training spots for camping. Some didn’t notice me or simply let me be if they did. There was a times when there were a bunch of hooligan sounding people. Those shake you up, you’re staying still, you’re hoping not to get noticed. One of the groups noticed the tarp. One of them was like, “what the fuck is that?”. I uncover the tarp off me a bit to see what’s going on and just how screwed I am. They weren’t expecting a reaction and got scared and go away promptly. Later on that same night there were three nuts passing by. Not that I knew it at the time. One of them was like “hey sleeping beauty wake up” and in a weird voice. Not weird so much as it sounded like a cop. Just like I can’t explain it you had to have been there. I thought I was busted right there. Strange as that may sound such a relief it was just mischievous goons…
Fun times in simple words…
Later after Thanksgiving when they started selling Christmas trees and wreaths along Avenue U like they do every year I had to move into the reservation/swamp across the street as the thing seemed to operate 24 hours and would attract the attention of yet more people. Going into the reservation/swamp/marsh at night is scary but I’ve never run into anyone there. I found this secluded spot around a tree surrounded by a bunch of bush and that was my camping spot during my few attempts there. The walk to it was very muddy. All in all it was a lot more peaceful than the track in Marine Park. Not to mention another perk; the walk tu the “bathroom” was also much closer.
The down sides were that there were noises I think possibly from geese and who knows what other local wildlife. Also there was a lot of garbage and crap everywhere. I try to respect the land and leave behind if something then biodegradable things. Others however had no such discretion. That or it may be some indirect effect of the Dead Horse Bay landfill burst back in the 1950’s(very unlikely tough if you look at/know the geography of the land).
Also though you may laugh and though I probably watch way too much crime TV I was afraid that buried under some of the crap there was a murder victim or something and that just creeped me out. I took out my flashlight and looked around more to calm myself down…
In the end though I haven’t been able to last a night or even fall asleep I did do a lot better than in the summer coming home at times past 4am even.
Another factor I don’t really know where best to describe here was my knee. Though at times I could bend it just about completely other times only a little more than 90 degrees. Perhaps it’s post operative swelling coupled with inflammation causing this. Perhaps it’s a hematoma. Always a risk after surgery but given the nature of hemangiomas all the more likely. Did I mention hemangiomas are bastards? It has improved now but I’m not sure if the issue will ever go away.
Eventually my tarp started smelling like swamp. Being 8*10 feet it was large I wasn’t sure how to clean it. I’d hose it down but I live in an apartment building not a house. I’d maybe ask someone if I can hose it down in their yard and leave it to dry but if that works I don’t know how much good it would do. An annoying thing about tarps is the condensation that gathers on them. Not that tents and sleepings bags are immune but…
I’m at a bit of an impasse right now and don’t really know what to do.
A more concrete budget and a new training regimen for the big walk
In light of erm somewhat recent events I’ve decided I need a newer better regimen of training expeditions more realistically related to the problems I may face on the big walk. My current regimen is as follows:
As can be seen there are a few problems that have been bothering me. Obviously as I mentioned in the above link SI1 and SI2 are dead. The next expedition now involves walking to Staten Island’s southern tip and back using no other mode of transport. Of course this means I’ll need to go into NJ, work my way down the coast, and cross onto SI. All in all the distance is therefore 100 or so miles at least according to Google. The Done And To Do page is out of date.
Anyway that’s among the trivial issues here. A more pressing issue is that worst case scenario test is at the end of the above list. Some of the expeditions in the above list are monsters in their own right and if the worst happens on them I’m still screwed. Getting robbed 2/3 of the way to Montauk Point is no better than say in the middle of Colorado. Thus I need other smaller worst case scenario simulators earlier on in the list so I can handle this possibility early on and not die on a training expedition. Then I work my way up to handling things of 7’s magnitude.
Furthermore there are budgetary concerns. I’m not exactly leaking money and currently am still unemployed. Still need to figure out just how tight of a budget I’m working with. Though I now have an upper bound and an estimate regarding the amount of money I have at my disposal.
I have about 500 in earnings from previous odd jobs. Furthermore I knew I had some money given to me for my birthday and other major holidays though I didn’t really have any access to it previously. I hoped I’d be able to access it as it is supposedly mine. I decided to go for it and count up what was there. I estimated that there was 2000 in there which was kind of ironic. How so? I looked and there was 7540. Much more than expected. Though it is supposedly mine I was told I’d be allowed to take at most 2000. Fate certainly has a sense of humor…
My budget is thus less than or equal to 2500 therefore. Worst case scenario I still have like 500. Karl Bushby started out on that and has risen to become the walker of walkers. Still even if possible to start on that it’s extremely difficult. I don’t need a lot, but I need something.
In my recent interview with Nate Damm he said he estimates the whole thing cost between 4000 and 4500. Of course how much it will cost for me I don’t know. However clearly I don’t want too much money to go into training costs either so I can actually do the big walk.
Thus with that said notice how some of the expeditions in the above list are somewhat similar at least in the route aspect. I’m thinking instead of doing these separately to combine them in a circuit of sorts. For example getting out to Orient Point and Montauk Point separately is a lot of work. Thus I’m thinking to combine them, to walk to Orient take the arc around to Montauk and then head back.
Thus with my previous training regimen and its flaws in mind please feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think of this new training regimen which will soon hopefully go verbatim on the Done And To Do page and be acted upon:
As usual leave your thoughts/advice in the comments. It’s been a while since someone commented. Though this is tentative likely this will replace the current official training regimen.
A few thoughts on and involvement with Occupy Wall Street
Not only was it unjustified but Bloomberg’s November 15th attack on the OWS camp in Zuccotti Park did a lot of damage not only to OWS but also to my effort.
At first though I sympathized like many I thought it wasn’t going to be different than typical protests which usually achieve nothing. A few day afterwards as I had and was recovering from my surgery they were still around. I didn’t and still don’t necessarily agree with their tactics or believe them to be the most efficient. Nonetheless I cannot bitch here. Unlike most who quietly suffered the people of OWS got up off their ass and did something to have their say, better their lot in life, and do the same for the next generation. I was really feeling there was an actual chance of making some noise, starting the needed conversations, and changing the world.
For a while all I could do was monitor events from afar though I wanted to help. One of my friends was at the protests when his other duties permitted. I looked at various media sources. As I learned more I felt a strong connection with the cause. Far from all of them were druggies and hoodlums(though sadly there was/is an ample supply of those). For example a lot of them did what they were told by their “wise” elders. They went to college, finished(sometimes with excellent marks), were above their head in debt, and jobless. Some luck out and of those that do many deserve to on the merits of their education(schooled or otherwise) and hard work. But what about the rest with education and who worked hard? Finish school so you can be a good corporate slave if you’re lucky. Sounds good eh?
If I could have been there in the Zuccotti Park era not only could I have helped a cause I believed in but also I could have picked up some valuable camping tips as well. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.
Now that I bring camping up I’ll take this as an opportunity to address common criticisms of OWS. Some say that they’re bums/spoiled brats who want everything on a platter. Obviously these people never camped out. I couldn’t even last a night outside. Frankly a lot of these haters probably wouldn’t even last as long as I did. Some of the protesters hung in there for nigh on two months. They survived truly rough stuff.
If I could have been there at the time I would have learned a lot. Luck has not been on my side. Of all the times I could have succumbed to the problems caused by the hemangioma that’s been slowly torturing me for years…
As soon as I’m just about well enough to possibly show up Bloomberg attacks the camp with no justification. Did I mention how great my luck was?
In all fairness poor Bloomberg/Wall Street didn’t have a choice. If OWS were an ineffective protest they’d be allowed to exist peacefully. Injecting ex-cons and homeless people to take advantage of free food and shelter didn’t work. Sending in the NYPD to steal OWS’s generators a day or two before the October 29th snowfall didn’t work. Add in what happened to Scott Olsen and watch participation and donations skyrocket. People were starting to send in space blankets so the whole freeze the bastards to death plan simply was at too much risk of failing. There was only one way to end it…
Wall Street took obscene risks knowing that even if they lose the government would milk us dry tax wise to save them if they begged nicely. There is an obvious similarity between Wall Street and OWS that both are asking for tax money to bail them out. That was what Wall Street wanted to bring to the front ahead of all the other facts. Probably what Wall Street the most was the most scared of was that their propaganda trying to reduce OWS to their level wasn’t working. OWS had built a pretty good commune. OWS showed the world how things could be. Again there was only one way to end it…
On December 13th to rehabilitate my leg and start getting back in shape I walked the 8.5 miles to Zuccotti Park area. Looked around learned what’s what. Joined the Tech Ops working group. I’m there in a programmer/sys-admin capacity. Trying to help out there. I’ve done a bit from the sidelines namely in terms of giving a few pointers but wish I could do much more. In all fairness it’s not entirely my fault. It would be nice if they were more organized and I actually had a spec… Either way if you want to check out what they’re up to or contribute check out their code repository at https://github.com/flosolutions
It would have been nice to swing by there when there was action in Zuccotti Park as opposed to a heavy police barricade around it trying to make it look like protesters don’t exist there. Nonetheless enough whining. I asked a few people around for tips regarding camping anyway. The most important tip I got was from Mitch a dude I met there and am friends with. The problem likely was that I didn’t insulate myself from the ground enough. The ground I camped on wasn’t terribly cold but neither did it give back heat like the floor. The tarp wasn’t thick enough probably and I needed to integrate a yoga mat there somewhere. Also when you’re in warm clothing your body starts thinking thats what it’s like outside… This will obviously be taken into account.
Also met a bunch of cool people in the Tech Ops group. Some are doing truly amazing things. However that aside here is the person that takes the cake. One of the guys there a dude named Jason was one of the Occupiers that marched from NYC to DC as part of Occupy The Highway. Like when he mentioned he was part of it I was just amazed. The respect I have for fellow walktivists(I’d brag about inventing the term but upon googling I found that the term had been used exactly once before I came along, so close though grargh) working on that level of epic is just immense. Only a handful of times have I had that feeling. The feeling of meeting a god. Total badass. Also let me take this moment to pay tribute to those walking occupiers once more. Furthermore while most of the marchers returned to NYC I learned from Jason that the 10 strongest are powering their way down to Atlanta. Again my respect for them is beyond words. Check out their progress at http://www.walkupy.org/ which seems to be temporarily down and here http://twitter.com/Walkupy
I can learn a lot from Jason but unfortunately I’ve only talked to him once. I gave him my email and told him to email me. Sadly he hasn’t. Not that I blame him. My enthusiasm/fanaticism about walking and walktivism is very intense. I also think the “ALL HAIL KARL BUSHBY”s that came later on in the conversation got to him as well. He was freaked out. But its my fault because in all fairness I was acting like a preteen girl that just met Justin Beiber. Though I haven’t spoken to him for a while I’ll find a way to get back in contact with him though someone else when I’m more calm and I’m sure we can go from there.
Now while I have talked about the good parts of OWS I also need to talk about the bad parts.
The media makes it seem likes OWS is all druggies, homeless, criminals, or the mentally ill and that clearly isn’t so. However put politely there is no shortage in the supply of idiots either. Granted there is a logical explanation for that. Most people aren’t fond of Wall Street or it’s doings. However they are too entrenched in the system in order to extract themselves. They at least have jobs that while exploitative hold their body together. But there’s more to life than getting by. They’re fed up. They can’t do much to speak out or act however for fear of losing their jobs. They’re insured, many people aren’t, why risk that getting out there into direct action perhaps being spotted by someone’s camera making it on the news, getting fired, …? The best they can do is maybe donate money or equipment to OWS in a quiet way so that there’s no retribution from their boss. The people on the forefront of the protest are those that have nothing to lose. Some are truly unique(our world punishes this a lot) nice educated people who down on their luck as a result of the bullshit world we live in. They conduct themselves honorably and are the main driving force of the positive change caused by OWS(people speak more of inequalities than deficits now). Others however have nothing to lose because they’re well losers simple as that. Knowing the why behind the what does not make dealing with some of these nuts any less annoying. This also can be a turnoff to passerby/locals. However even the idiots have their use. OWS needs more people as power never gives anything without a strong demand from many people creating too much pressure to deny.
Furthermore they do go over the line at times. Consider December 17th when they tried to establish the park at Duarte Square as a new headquarters. Part of it was city owned property and part was owned by the Trinity Episcopal Church. Of the fact that they needed a headquarters there was no doubt. I already discussed why the encampment at Zuccotti Park was important and the main reason it got shut down. The part the Occupiers were trying to get to was an empty lot fenced off by the church. It was unused for the most part. Maybe the occasional art show. A bunch of Occupiers tried everything from pushing down the fence to scaling over it with a ladder. Again they needed a headquarters. Normally I’d have no issue. The one thing is though that the church helped them at times before. However as far as letting OWS use they square the refused to even negotiate. I just don’t know what to think here. Frankly the church is owned by an organization of real estate fatcats called Trinity Wall Street so it may be a case of a corporation posing as a church. I don’t know either way. Like there are landlords who keep houses boarded up in the face of homelessness simply because they can’t turn enough of a profit. If it was property belonging to people like that I’d have no qualms. If they tried to take back Zuccotti Park from which they were unjustly evicted nothing would nibble at me. Hell if they went throwing rocks at the cops outside Zuccotti Park I’d be right there with them. But the church helped them with food, charging appliances, blankets to keep warm. The moment they do one thing OWS doesn’t like OWS disrespects their wishes and this happens. I feel OWS may have gone too far on this one. I’m not fully sure though. People even within the church were divided and some of the clergy also scaled the fence allong with the Occupiers. Just what boggles me here was why take Duarte Square anyway. It’s not far from the financial district but is not terribly close. Frankly even if they did succeed in taking Duarte it’s still capitulation to the whim of a rich man and a bunch of armed thugs telling them where they can and can’t be. Hell even Zuccotti Park was in a way. The goal was to take Wall Street wasn’t it?
A headquarters was needed, but seriously Duarte Square? Come on people. I was there for a bit but then left due to cold and people smoking. And if not smoking then being annoying. Like this wiseass went running around putting burning sage in peoples faces. I think I mentioned that there was no shortage of idiots. Which leads me to my next point that in some cases they don’t know what the hell they want.
Of course when you don’t know what the hell you want you become vulnerable to manipulation. That’s what I fear the most. Anyway getting to my last point there are two kinds of protests/revolutions: the spontaneous and the induced. If it’s the latter one is of course led to ask who is behind the curtain? If it’s the former one must still ask the same thing because in the end it doesn’t matter. If nobody was behind the curtain at first someone sure as hell is now.
Take Libya for example. Inspired by Tunisia and Egypt they stood to fight for their rights. After Gaddafi took over Libya he forced imperialistic countries to renegotiate oil prices so that Libya kept most of the profits. Needless to say the US and NATO saw gold so they went in apparently for humanitarian purposes. Notice that’s not done in say North Korea. After all imagine how brainwashed the population must be to shed genuine tears over Kim Jong-Il’s death. Sure the Gaddafi regime was had mass poverty, brutality, cracked down on freedom of speech, etc. But all these atrocities make Gaddafi look like a saint compared to North Korea for its mostly successful assault on our most important right. Without freedom of thought we are nothing.
While Wall Street needs to go down without a doubt we must still stop and question who is using this for malicious ends. China, Russia, Iran, are for example among many who want to see the United States weakened and will not hesitate to take advantage of us at a moments notice. Wall Street going under certainly weakens America. If they didn’t start OWS they are at least supportive of and even perhaps actively backing it.
Some may go so far as to say I’m brainwashed by Wall Street and/or US government propaganda. Let me be clear that it is not the case. I am no friend of either Wall Street or the US(or any other country, world citizen til the end). However I am also no friend of China, Russia, Iran, and who knows who else may be trying to use OWS to achieve malicious ends. Some revolutions are clean, but in others as soon as the revolutionaries have served their purpose they are brushed aside and enslaved even more brutally by whoever they brought to power. Take the Russian Revolution for example. The point is that of all the negative aspects of OWS that fact that I may be being used for malicious ends is what disturbs me the most.
Am I saying that Occupy Wall Street is bad? No. I am an Occupier and I am proud to be one. What I am saying however is that I’m an Occupier that’s carefully observing what’s going on so as not to replace a bad system by worse inadvertently. The fact is we do not know whether OWS was spontaneous or induced, and if induced for what purposes. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter because if nobody was behind the curtain someone is now. No matter what you do in life someone will invariably try to twist it to bad ends. This isn’t a conspiracy theory it’s a fact. Take going to college for example. In spite of knowing school sucks you go anyway in an attempt to please your parents who only want security and happiness for you. But again never forget that the main fanaticism behind college was induced by a governmental corporate partnership whose main goal was to produce indoctrinated debt shackled slaves. Your parents may care for your security but the system that bombards them with both on TV/news and mouth to mouth propaganda does not. Similarly if you don’t go to college gangs, drug rings, and pimps will ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people who feel they have no other options. Regardless of whether you do +x or -x people will try to twist it to bad ends. So in conclusion all I’m saying is be aware of this. Though this is true all the time it is especially so in revolutions.
In the end all I can do is what I feel is right. If OWS goes in a direction I don’t like we part ways. As I said before I don’t believe their methods are the best for achieving the change they want. I agree with Buckminster Fuller who said that you never change the existing model by fighting it(I’d replace never by most of the time). You change it by creating a new one that makes the old one obsolete. That’s what these walks are about for instance to do amazing things while making a positive difference. That’s also what I’m trying to do with my life in general. If anything is worth doing it’s worth doing right and well. If life is worth living it’s worth living right and well.
OWS while good guys bent on fairness have the issue that half of them just don’t get it. They hope that if they put down enough pressure that certain things will be done. Assume they succeed. A lot of them will return back to the old rat race mentality. Sure more of them will be employed. Sure working people will have higher wages closer to what they deserve. The rich will be taxed more to help those that are down on their luck. This generation of corrupt bankers will die in prison. Hell even colleges will stop raising prices just because they can. But the fundamental mentality a good chunk of them have is the same old rat race mentality. For instance they won’t question college. They won’t question whether it’s the best place to learn. They won’t question the diploma fanaticism that at best is an annoyance and at worst has doomed the lives of many brilliant men. They won’t ask is there a sensible exam system we can build that determines actual merit by solving realm problems. They won’t question the cost. They won’t question the sustainability. They won’t question why both a combination of the government and mafias make independent enterprise and fair competition excruciatingly difficult essentially forcing you to count your bosses money in some office for the rest of your able life.
They all want fundamental change. One half in the sense of making the sick game fairer if possible(which it very well may not because our current structure is simply unsustainable). The other half are the more progressive. They like me are trying to live in a sustainable, healthy, and free way. If enough people start doing this a new large global society will rise up in a tsunami from the grassroots washing away those who use the current system to benefit off our back. Zuccotti Park got shut down because they had established quite the commune and showed the world how things could be.
I don’t know where OWS is heading or whether it will achieve their goals. I do know however that I worked against all the negativity/bullshit before OWS, work against it during OWS, and will continue working against it after OWS regardless of its outcome.
Where do I go from here?
The multiday barrier and the other obstacles in front of me refuse to yield. With what little resources were at my disposal I have done just about all that I can do. Frankly I don’t know if Gaddafi bombed his people with the same aggression as I have attacked the problems at hand. But all my attempts to no avail. Everything and a half seems to want a piece of me. I really don’t know what to do further. I’m at a wall.
I don’t know how I’m going to pass the camp test let alone my training expeditions or the big walk. Hell I even phoned Nate Damm and talked to him asked for advice. But words can only go so far. Action is what is needed. Either you can do it or you can’t. He’s an awesome individual either way and I hope that we will be good friends.
My budget is pretty much nonexistant. Even if I could afford to buy “proper” camping equipment I have no guarantee that it would work as I need it to nor would I actually have money left for expeditioning. Even if I try getting out there the winter will eat me alive. I hate the winter. I’m just up to here with it all.
Camp test wise there is only one last thing I can do. A crazy idea that I’ve had to help me acclimatize to sleeping outside in a slower more gradual fashion is to try the Matt Green Technique locally. Obviously the difference here is that if I am invited into a home I reject. The point is to acclimatize to sleeping outside. Hopefully I will feel safer on the yard knowing that I am sleeping there with permission and that there’s less likelihood of a psycho or a cop attacking me at night. Not to mention this is a good exercise in social skydiving, rejection therapy, and just confidence building in general. Don’t know how that will go but that may be my last chance. If I succeed it may pan out to something.
My last idea is nothing short of ludicrous. Partly it may be that I’m a skip the bullshit step one onto step two kind of guy. I’m also sick and tired of winter and have before me a set of training expeditions that may be too difficult to complete. I’m up to here. I’m in half a mood to just hitchhike down to Jacksonville in Florida, walk for the west coast, and pray for a miracle.
On this there is one more thing that can help me. On my way down there I can stop by Knoxville and grab a friend of mine if she’s willing. Jessica is quite the badass. Like me she is a fellow unschooler. I came across Jessica while recruiting people for a project of mine that’s currently down but not out. The Self Directed Learners Union was designed to help and stand up for the interests of unschoolers in a world that didn’t understand. Anyway Jess is quite the badass. She’s a freegan. Her dumpster diving skills are amazing while mine are almost nil. She can also forage for edible plants in the wild. She goes camping out for days at a time while I can’t last a night. In short she has survival skills which I can hopefully learn from her. With her by my side I actually have a fighting chance. The only possible drawback is that I walk very fast. This is partly due to my height/long legs and partly to my nature given walking prowess/energy. Many people couldn’t keep up with me. Paul could, but even then I had to remind him to keep up the pace. Therefore I will be slowed down. Part of what I enjoy about walking is that unlike running fast there is no want to stop feeling. Instead when you walk fast you feel this power course through you. I can’t even describe it. But it’s an amazing feeling and adds a lot to the physical reasons that I enjoy walking. Without going at my natural fast but comfortable powerwalkish speed that feeling may be gone. On the other hand the walk is about mindfully exploring the continent and thus I’m hardly in a rush. Not to mention Jess is really awesome and having her with me would brighten my day.
Why it has to be this hard I don’t know. I do know that my life depends on me pulling out this walk. Failure is not an option. I have few supporters but that will change. From my reading I saw the recurring pattern that when your expeditions get epic enough people notice, appreciate, and help you with many things ranging from food to money to a place to stay to getting you a decent job where you can replenish your funds to providing good company for a leg of your walk. Recent experience has also confirmed to me these things I heard about the kindness of strangers and how people help those that do amazing things. I just need to bootstrap myself up to the point where my deeds are on peoples radar. My main problem is shortage of money. I don’t need a lot. Nate pulled a coast to coaster for 4000-4500. My budget is 2500 tops. Very likely less than that. That may be all I need to bootstrap myself to a point where I can better help myself and am in other peoples radar as well in case they want to help. I don’t need a lot but I need something to do that. What I have simply may not be enough. It’s frustrating. Dish out more than 100 grand for the college trap which best case scenario wins me rat race slavery for the rest of my able years sure my parents will do. But on a small percentage of that the journey that can let me live my dream, educate me like nothing else can, help me network, secure my future, and make a positive difference becomes possible. On 1/10 of that not only can I walk, I can walk like a king. But do they care, will they help, will they even let me access my own money? Nope. And frankly money isn’t the only or most important thing. There are other things that can be done to help, but no.
Do they understand passion? Apparently not. Apparently all the things I did thus far indicate neither aptitude nor enthusiasm nor drive that should be encouraged to help me reach my full potential. On some level or another a part of me always knew I wanted to do this. The conscious part of me did not until perhaps three years ago. Once you get out of the rat race mentality you begin to open that box deep inside where you locked your dreams for your own sanity. Once it is unlocked you can never put them back. Few things are as painful as a passion which cannot be pursued. Few things are as painful as the dream that you have to give up on. It’s like getting your heart broken by a woman. Only one cant say there’s more fish in that sea because there’s not. At least not fish of a sufficiently similar type. Maybe if you’re lucky you can find something else that speaks to you that way but is easier to pursue. Many of us are not.
Instead of helping me grow and pursue my passion apparently my family enjoys watching me writhe and squirm. They keep me alive. For that I am grateful. I am fed, clothed, and sheltered. I can even see a doctor while I’m covered under their plan. Outwardly it may appear that I have everything. But if you think about it you get all the same things in prison. Maybe not as comfortable but fundamentally the same. I’m sick and tired of this semi-isolated limbo. What sickens me even more is that the only obvious option I’m given is the university then rat race trap. That I will not do. As the time came I knew I had a choice. Would I live the dream or would I live the nightmare? The decision was obvious. It’s junior year now. I will not willingly go with what appears to be the live the hopeless limbo option. I can’t do this ant longer and frankly even if I could one day that will run out and I will be nobody, nothing. All I know is that my only hope is to get out there and do something good for myself and for others. This I must do at any cost.
To be frank I spoke quite harshly. I may even regret writing this in the morning. The rational part of me understands my family acts as they do for some deluded idea of what they think is best for me. Nonetheless this is how I feel right now and I can’t help that. I’m up to here, up to fucking here.
With that said I don’t know what else to say but this:
DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO RESIST THE NDAA, SOPA, AND PIPA. NOW WE ARE FIGHTING THE LAST GREAT BATTLE FOR OUR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS. IF WE LOSE THIS ONE WE MAY NEVER HAVE THE CHANCE TO RISE AGAIN. NO PRESSURE, BUT IT’S ONLY YOUR FUTURE AND THAT OF FUTURE GENERATIONS DEPENDS ON IT.
Some time ago I heard a bunch of Occupy Wall Street protesters were walking from NYC to DC. I recently learned that they have made it. I sincerely congratulate each and every one of them and wish them the best of luck. My respect for them is beyond words. True heroes.
As I said before I will try to contact Nate Damm, see what I can learn from him, become friends, get to know him, and if possible get an interview to share some tips with you guys. Well here it is.
Now Nate for those of you who don’t know has walked coast to coast from Cape Henlopen Park in Delaware to Ocean Beach in San Francisco finishing on October 15, 2011. His journey was an amazing one to watch and I am at a loss of words to describe the badassery of it all. All I can say is check out his sites.
Furthermore since a picture is worth a thousand words I feel compelled to show you this stuff. Here you look into the face of a champion. Here you look into the face of badassery itself. Here you look into the face of a mythical hero(seriously people I can’t be the only one who is reminded of Jak from the Jak And Daxter trilogy). 😀
I also feel compelled to link you to a video of him stepping into the Pacific Ocean. His mom was there. His friends were there to support him some having flown/commuted hundreds sometimes thousands of miles just to see him finish. Going after your dreams, friends, family. That’s what life’s all about. Watch and be inspired.
So Nate man a big thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Without further ado:
As I said before this interview will get very weird very fast because I ask the dirty technical questions other people don’t. Thus for some semblance of normality before we get into the real meat of the discussion please give us a brief introduction to yourself.
I’m Nate Damm, lived in Maine all my life. Hadn’t really done any traveling prior to my walk across the U.S. Had a nice job, apartment and life, but gave up everything to walk across the country.
Many a badass has done walks of the coast to coast magnitude. Yet others have gone far beyond. However what the bards always seem to edit out of the epics they sing is what these folks did when they had to go. Sometimes you’re in the vicinity of a public bathroom, other times you’re walking along a highway with the nearest town in either direction 15 miles away, others you’re camping out in the middle of nowhere, and yet other times you’re in a situation people like myself can’t forsee until we do expeditions of that scale ourselves. Do you step away somewhere nobody goes and do business? Perhaps bury it and the toilet paper in a hole dug with a small shovel or garden trowel all biodegradable? Do you carry some kind of portable container that temporarily holds stuff until it can be disposed of in a more appropriate fashion? Some kind of rig and/or curtain for privacy? This is one of the difficulties that me and who knows how many others have trouble resolving. Nobody seems to ask this question so I will. What do you do? Are there other good solutions to this dilemma that you know of? Which one do you think is the best?
The best option is whatever the situations presents. Sometimes you definitely have to be a bit bold and go into some uncomfortable circumstances. There were only a few times where I ran into a situation that I couldn’t make it to a town or store in time, and they were all solved by a simple walk into the woods or out of sight of the road. That’s all the detail I’ll go into haha!
What are your thoughts on the Matt Green Technique for scoring couchsurfing or perhaps a place to camp? Taken right from here( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_persons_who_have_walked_across_the_United_States#Matt_Green ) is it’s description:
“Each day, if in a place where he didn’t know anyone, he would knock on someone’s door and ask to pitch his tent on their property. Many people invited Matt into their homes and in doing so, he was able to share his story with many people and also learn about the lives of average Americans all across the country.”
Unfortunately I haven’t had the guts to try it yet. Have you? If so what happened? Any other thoughts on the matter?
That’s a great strategy, and I’ve done it. It worked every time I tried and actually led to some of my most cherished memories on the trip. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. It can be a bit awkward, but that’s why not everyone walks across the U.S. You have to just get used to it.
What are your thoughts on the salmon ladder( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nygdIxtKSmo )?
Awesome! Wish I could do that, but if probably wouldn’t go very well.
When you did wind up couchsurfing how did it wind up happening? Any interesting stories to tell from that angle? Any good advice in terms of scoring couchsurfing?
I used Couchsurfing twice, and they were both great experiences. I didn’t use it more because I was usually in very small towns and there were no hosts there. Also, I didn’t really like planning ahead. Winging it worked best and was what I liked doing.
What did you do when it rained? This is a rather multipronged question which I’m unsure how to even ask properly. Like say it was raining and you had to set up camp for the night. How fast would you be able to rig up a tent? How much water gets in? You get wet too meanwhile how do you handle these things on the chillier nights? Or perhaps you stop and get into your tent to wait things off whenever it starts raining and it looks like it’ll be serious? Something as simple as rain can cause these logistic headaches along with others I may have failed to even consider. Any advice on the whole rain issue? Furthermore though you have chosen your timing to avoid it some like Peter Jenkins have even walked through the snows of winter. Any advice to the bolder of us for handling that?
Rain is the biggest pain in the ass for a walker, no question. There’s really no rule with how to deal with it. It depends on terrain, temperature, time of day, how strong the rain is, if it’s going to be a shower or a long storm. The bottom line is that you don’t want to get wet and then cold. I used a really cheap raincoat from Walmart and an umbrella, they served me very well most of the time. There will be nights when it starts raining as you have to set up your tent, I usually would just wait it out. I was lucky and never got into any real serious situations.
From what I see you use the sleeping bag and tent combination for your system of portable shelter. Myself and probably a lot of others also having similar problems aren’t so sure. First off I’m really strapped for money and the costs of typical camping equipment are rather large. Furthermore yes I know they keep heat in really well but I’m not sure if I can sleep in the typical mummy bag. Part of the problem is that I can’t sleep in that cramped mummy position. Another less important issue is that I don’t generally sleep on my back however I tend to favor it when sleeping on the floor and hence may adapt. The point is I’m not really in the mood to fork over obscene money for a mummy bag I can’t sleep in properly. A lot of tents I’ve seen are flimsy and probably won’t withstand heavy rain and whatnot. Not to mention someone my height can barely sit up in them so the usefulness of those is rather questionable. While for some it might work well what other systems do you think might work. Perhaps rectangular or human shaped sleeping bags. Perhaps a tarp, mosquito net, and the clothes on your back. I’ve heard of people who literally used just the latter. Fellow coast to coaster mark Baumer slept on some sort of chair after his tent broke nine days in(surprise surprise). The list of portable shelter solutions goes on. Thus we need an experienced veteran to sort the best from the rest for when the traditional sleeping bag tent model breaks down.
I’d say to just try a few different options. A tarp shelter would work if you don’t like being cramped I suppose. But, you usually get what you pay for with gear. I bought a very nice tent as much as I didn’t want to, a Kelty Gunnison 1.1, and it was fantastic. That tent stood strong through unbelievably bad weather. I used a mummy bag as well. The thing is, you’re just not going to be comfortable, no matter what in most situations. It takes some getting used to. I didn’t sleep well at the beginning of my trip but things just got better as I went. By then end I could sleep on solid concrete 20 feet from a road right out in the open and not wake up once.
What kind of weaponry if any did you have for defensive purposes? Was it traditional or improvised? Any advice on something that’s easy to acquire/make and most importantly learn to use effectively so its not taken away to be used against you? Every state has its own laws on guns, knives, etc. There are gray areas on other improvised weapons that don’t fall into the easy to define category. Has potential legal trouble been something worrisome in some of the perverse states that stipulate we shouldn’t defend ourselves? I’m guessing if you keep things hidden, your mouth shut, and talk to any officers you run across respectfully there should be no trouble. But still how much has that been a stress causer?
Walking sticks and a small knife, that’s all I had. And don’t be hesitant to talk to police, they are the greatest friend you can have on the trip. I wouldn’t have made it across the country without the help of all kinds of law enforcement.
Even during my smaller walks I started to see the world on a whole new scale. After a walk like yours I can only imagine the scope of the good, the evil, and the just plain bizarre that you have seen. Describe the most extreme of each of these you have run into.
The good – just the help from random people, I could write a whole book on this, and probably will. The bad – crazy drivers trying to hit me. Bizarre – the crazy people that looking like a homeless person tends to attract, I loved them though, always good for a funny/entertaining story.
On your journey you’ve dealt with everything from sleeping under bridges to being put up in a nice hotel by a couple who happened to like you. Surely the adjustment between these extremes takes its toll. Describe if you can the psychological aspect of that.
It definitely is quite a change from night to night! It definitely weighs on you a bit, but once again, you get used to it. I actually started to prefer camping by the end for some reason.
Approximately what portion of the time would you say that you have:
a. camped out in official campgrounds
b. camped out on the sly
d. stayed at a hostel or hotel or budget motel
What can we realistically expect on such a trip?
I don’t know if I could give you accurate percentages for each, but most of the time it was stealth camping off the side of the road or in a town park with permission from the police. I had hosts quite often, most of whom found me through my site or just met me on the road while I was walking, then hotels were pretty infrequent.
You say on your site that you are attempting to keep the cost of the walk at 3500 dollars or under if possible. One of the problems that many people face is that they don’t know in advance how much it will cost. Obviously it will be reasonably cheap. After the initial investment in gear and money to get home should the worst happen all you really need is money for food(and maybe when you want to splurge the occasional budget motel). Still getting a reasonable estimate on that is hard. How did you arrive at yours? How close were you to your estimate? You also mentioned something on your site about keeping track of the purchases you made? Will that be going up so we can get some sort of idea of the cost and the needed items?
My best guess is that I did the whole trip for between $4,000 and $4,500. Not totally sure but that seems right at this point.
Though Wade Shepard’s vagabondjourney.com is the ultimate cheapskate travel instruction manual it seems to be more geared to the kind of travel where you go to live in Bangkok for a month or six. Not so geared to walkers of our kind(though in all fairness Wade does walk a lot more than 95% of the population and is also a veteran walker). Any advice more geared towards walkers of our kind? How cheap do you think an expedition like this can be reasonably done?
It can really be done as cheap as you want it. If you wanted to always sleep outside and rely on homeless shelters, dumpster diving and the kindness of strangers, you would hardly need anything. Obviously that would be extremely difficult though. I would say plan on $10/day for food if you eat pretty cheaply, and if you don’t want to then you should never have to pay to camp/stay anywhere. It all depends on how much you want to rough it!
How does it feel like to be at the finish? And what’s next in the epic story of Nate “The Great” Damm? Perhaps you’ll circumnavigate Australia by foot? Perhaps you’ll walk Kazakstan west tip to east dip into China and do the same in Mongolia? Perhaps you’ll pull a Karl Bushby? What’s the plan?
Not sure yet! Thinking over a couple of options, but I’d like to be on the road within the next couple of months, regardless of how that means I’ll be traveling. Wish I had a better answer for this, but I don’t like planning much as you can tell!
And finally say it with me. You know you want to. ALL HAIL KARL BUSHBY!
Of course! The dude is a badass!
Today to mark a month since the surgery I walked all 4.5 miles of Shore Road Park from the memorial pier at Bay Ridge Ave to the shopping center in Caesars Bay. Shore Road Park is a really awesome walk highly recommended. Recovery seems to be moving along well.
Earlier today I took an evening walk, one of my usual haunts, a loop a little over two miles long.
Later today for no particular reason I was mucking around on the Debian site and stumbled upon a page there, a directory of vendors who sell computers with Debian preinstalled. As you can see not that many such stores in the whole US. Granted there may be more that Debian is unaware of but still very few Linux vendors out there.
Now as I’m scrolling this list what do I see. One of the stores is along the route that I’ve taken earlier today and many times before. I didn’t even notice. Granted on Gravesend Neck most if not all of the stores/businesses there are holes in the wall that you don’t pay too much mind too. If you asked me to tell you what stores there were the first thing that comes to mind is a tattoo parlor because it’s one of the few places there that actually stands out.
I usually observe my environment quite well and am aware of it. I’m just amazed I missed that place. Or perhaps the page is out of date and thats why I haven’t seen it. Yet another possibility is that I’ve seen it before and it’s no longer there. Next time I’m in the area I’ll find out definitively.
The point is there are a lot of gems under your nose. It makes you wonder what other cool things in plain sight you missed.
Once a while back I was given by a friend an article in the times about a New York Times reporter Andy Newman who walked 75.4 laps a marathon distance around his block. He thought it’d be a fun challenge which would help him get to know his block and his neighborhood better. I thought it was an intriguing idea but somehow I wasn’t too keen on it because I thought I knew my block and neighborhood well. Still I kept it in the back of my mind. Perhaps I should do something like this sometime when I am sufficiently recovered…
Speaking of my recovery I’m coming along quite nicely. A couple of days ago I walked three miles. I can now bend my leg 135 degrees when stretching with the help of a beg or a chair and to like 100 degrees just standing up and trying to move my leg as far as I can at will. The swelling has gone down considerably but not completely. It should take another two weeks for that. The recovery process seems to be going smoothly. Joints do feel a bit painy but then on the other hand with me when aren’t they? I can almost climb the stairs normally again. In a couple of days I’ll test myself by walking all 4.5 miles of Shore Road Park. I think I can do it sucessfully. Haven’t done it in a while so I miss that walk. Really awesome highly reccomended btw.
And in a few weeks back to kicking ass on the coast to coast scale.
I just recently found out and feel compelled to tell you that Yuuji Urushihara has achieved Kanzenseiha(total victory) at Sasuke 27.
Now for those of you who don’t know Sasuke is a sport so psychotically badass it makes The Olympic Games look about as athletic as sitting on the couch and eating a bag of potato chips. Again if you don’t already know about it look it up now. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone fall out of the salmon ladder. It is the hardest obstacle course ever created. Again that shit is so psychotically hardcore that Olympians got their asses handed to them. Paul Hamm gold medal Gymnast. His twin Morgan Hamm got the silver medal. Paul Terek hardass decathlete. Henry Cejudo got a gold medal in wresting. Jordan Jovtchev bronze medal in Gymnastics. Yoshiyuki Okuyama Olympic sprinter for Japan. Who else did I miss?
Up till now out of 2600 attempts three complete badasses have succeeded:
And now at Sasuke 27 he’s done it all again and more as after each victory the course becomes drastically harder. I can only speculate what obstacles it is they’ll add. My personal guess is that the salmon ladder will be moved to stage 1 and that one of the obstacles in stage 2 will involve breaking out of police regulation handcuffs 10 times to really wear those arms out or something of the like. What will be in stages 3 and 4 I can only speculate.
Win Sasuke once and you’re a legend. Win it twice you’re in the all time badass hall of fame. Your name will never be forgotten. Congratulations yet again to Yuuji Urushihara wherever he is.
Here’s a link to a rather crappy vid of him doing stages 3 and 4. Also to keep things in perspective keep in mind he’s tired as hell after the first 2 stages and yet look how he does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nuqh3P4oVk
On the 22nd as planned I got the surgery. It was led by Dr. Samuel Kenan and helped by a bunch of others whose names I’ll have to get from him. Write a nice thank you letter to them once I have progress to report.
All in all it went really well and was done with a minimum of blood loss. Once the incision was made the bastard almost came out on its own. Only real problems were I didn’t mix too well with the anesthesia but no harm done and I’m not gonna go into that. The wrappings around my leg are really itchy, squeezy, and mess with my kneecap in a bad way. If it wasn’t for what they did to my kneecap I’d be able to walk quite decently. However now I have considerable trouble just getting to the bathroom or whatever because of that. Sad. Of all the days I write this it’s the 26th of September and the 2 year anniversary of the Epic Saunter the longest expedition I did whose distance I know. A whopping 48.something miles. What have I decayed to? No matter as soon as I recover I get right back to kicking ass.
September 30th update:
Took the wrappings off very late Tuesday into Wednesday. Such relief. My leg is rather swollen but still wound seems to have healed well ans the wrappings aren’t destroying my kneecap and joint anymore. Soon I will be right as rain. On Wednesday I even managed to get a pair of pants on completely on my own. Sadly had to resort back to my mom’s robes again as swelling made putting anything else on by myself quite impossible. Asking for help when not absolutely necessary is humiliating and thus I’d rather essentially be wearing a dress that I can get on by myself rather than normal clothes that require the assistance of my parents and not to mention is still quite painful due to the effects of the wrappings not completely subsiding. Working on getting back the flexibility in my leg to get back to full normality but till the swelling subsides there’s only so much I can do. I can bend my leg as much as 60 degrees under some circumstances(have to be sitting, can’t standing up, the pain has this way of making my hamstring ignore my brain’s command to contract). More work to do.
Things seem to be moving along well. Hope to continue to a full and correct recovery.
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. But then at the same time it doesn’t matter as almost nobody reads this.
Had lots of shit going on what with the East Coast Earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and lots of other stuff. However not having been hit hard by either that’s trivial compared to what’s holding me back this time around. My knee. Or more accurately the hemaangioma at the bottom of my left quad that I mentioned earlier. All in all the pain has been mostly under control since I’ve been active but apparently as I learned even that’s not enough in the event of a major bleed way too much blood and swelling to squeeze out/away by flexing or by just being active as in the case of small bleeds.
It started the Sunday before the week of the East Coast Earthquake and hurricane Irene. That morning I woke up on the floor as I was doing the usual training exercise that night to better acclimatize me to camping out. When I woke up I realized there was a problem. It hurt a lot. Like never before. I had trouble standing up almost had to do a one legged squat essentially to do so. Just lucky my bed was nearby, not that I could get good leverage with my arm. But still… My good leg somehow did most of the work there.
It was painful. So much blood and swelling that bending my leg to 90 degrees was quite painful. Felt like it would explode. Common tasks such as just sitting down at my desk, or on the toilet, or putting on my shoes/socks became extremely hard. So was actually flexing my quads because again just squeezing the muscle resulted in obscene pain/pressure. Even a tiny bit. To get into bed times I had to lift my bad leg with my good leg. Absolutely couldn’t flex the quads.
After that second MRI giving me the answer to the problem with my knee we saw a specialist. Again since it was a benign tumor and wasn’t bothering me at the time since I was active we were told by the doctor that it can be surgically removed but again since it wasn’t a threat it wasn’t necessary to do that. I wasn’t sure what to do. Like on one hand I want the problem fixed on the other I’m not that wild about my leg being cut open you know what I’m saying. That Sunday going into Monday, that night I knew OK this has to be done. Couldn’t really fall asleep because of the pain. The damn thing was a bastard. Can’t sleep. Can’t sit and work properly. Can’t enjoy the ANW3 finals(but still even the pain didn’t prevent me from thinking boot camp is lame and marveling at David Campbell’s badassery, he fucking had the Ultimate Cliff Hanger).
Obviously immediately within the next few days my mom makes a bunch of phone calls and when we get a date for the surgery. I almost flipped out. September 22nd. More than a month of waiting. Didn’t know how I’d last considering the pain and how hard it was to function.
Luckily after a week in this considerable pain it slowed down and over some more time almost stopped. Now as I’m waiting these last three days and for the past while I’m not even limping. However that week was incredibly hard. Also it had its scary moment namely during the earthquake. I was messing around on my computer when I felt it. I don’t believe I previously experienced an earthquake yet instantly I knew what it was. I was scared. Again in situations like this taking the elevator is dangerous but with the state of my knee I was really worried about how I’d get down from the 5th floor. I honestly thought I was dead at that point. I had no way of knowing the quake would end almost as soon as it started. Also realized how serious of a problem my knee was. Granted if a sufficiently strong sudden earthquake hit I’d be dead bad leg or not. But still… My mom was at work. My dad and sister at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where neither of them felt anything. That one was wow shook me to my core.
Anyway obviously as you can see there will be a delay of about three months. Even if the problem came back to stable if a major bleed happened once it could happen again somewhere far less forgiving. Thus I’ll have to stand down however grudgingly until this is resolved.
I’ve been told that the recovery time is 6 weeks. Even after the surgery I will be able to walk a bit. Get to the bathroom, kitchen, etc but little more. I’ll wait a little over 2 months to ensure that I’m properly recovered and my muscle is healed after being cut through. Thus until at least December there will be no expeditions.
Not to say I won’t be putting the downtime to good use. October I use purely for recovery/research and development. November is where I start attacking the multiday barrier again. The first half I sleep on the floor. Get my cushy ass used to sleeping hardcore. The other half I take it outside. Obviously need to think up a good portable shelter design to not freeze to death. In light of the previously mentioned experiences sleeping on the floor I have again considered maybe getting the traditional sleeping bag/tent but at the same time I can’t sleep in a mummy position and the costs are obscene. There’s no easy answer but I’ll see what I can do.
December I start walking again. Take some time to get back in shape then crack the multiday barrier though when that will be I do not know.
Again this downtime just absolutely sucks. Just gonna try not to lose my mind until I can walk again.
Also this gives me more time to work on this site. Granted I won’t be posting as often but I still may post updates on the situation periodically. Also need to finish the about page. There’s just so much this walk is all about for me that I’m having considerable trouble releasing coherently the mere tip of the iceberg of what drives me. Sometimes I wish more people just got who I am and more importantly what this walk is about. A lot of what I’m trying to convey is just common sense. At times I don’t even know why I bothered writing an about page. But it’s hard believe me. I honestly didn’t think it’d be that difficult to let this stuff out. And to think I considered developing a blog with Django just to learn and flex my coding muscle… Lucky I backed out though that had more to do with most free web hosts supporting PHP and not Python… I’ll fight on sentence by sentence. Hopefully I’ll actually finish it at some point in time.
Not to mention must upload previous expedition photos to fotki.com and link to there from here. Said I’d do it but somehow that slipped my mind.
Finally I may do something crazy I’ve been thinking about doing. Namely talk to Nate Damm who is walking from Lewes, Delaware also to San Francisco. He is a couple of days away from crossing into California as I write this. When I see where he is on the map and pictures and videos of the cool shit this guy does it’s literally all I can do not to cry because I’m not doing that kind of stuff. This dude is so awesome I think I’m also starting to develop a mancrush on him. So Levi Meeuwenberg is no longer alone. =-P
First and foremost hopefully become friends with him. He seems to be one of the few sane people in a world gone mad. Also wanna learn from him and hopefully later interview him more formally to get tips for sharing here to help anyone else who wants to walk like this. Obviously in the event an interview happens please do tune in. I won’t be asking the usual questions people do in these things I have some very unusual and in some cases perhaps even awkward questions to ask. We’ll see what happens.
Again I’m just really nervous. Nate is badass. After I recover from the immediate effects of the surgery I’ll drop him an email or give him a call just gotta gather up the guts. I don’t know why I’m this nervous about this. You’d think I was asking a girl out or about to be beheaded or something. But I guess when you’re a badass thats just how people feel about talking to you. Even when you’re a friendly badass the aura of badassery still scares others away. Again wait and see folks. I’ll try to do this.
Thus in conclusion I may be down but no way in fuck have I given up. Good things to come soon no matter what happens. I will do these walks.