Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hankerin' fer Balls

Orlando, Florida 

A scheduled taxi picks me up at Rond's.  He says there are other cabs that came to take the fare.  He explains their listening to his calls is illegal and comments on reporting it.  I don't think he will.  He talks about the snow later in the day and says there hasn't been snow this early in Maine since 1898.  He says that was the same year The USS Maine was sunk in the Spanish-American War.  I figure he knows that from the radio.

It snows from Connecticut to Philadelphia.  On the last train I get on a Jamaican woman makes a bed at the window.  I can't take any more blurry pictures.  A family from the Portland train station follows me all the way to Orlando.  It's the first time any of them have left the state.  Sitting behind me, an old couple from Quebec are enthralled by a dog park and a chihuahua in a tutu.  Kids from Philadelphia point out the windows in Winter Park and yell they can see Florida from their side.  I remember why I hate tourists.  They aren't from Florida and seem to be amazed by everything.  It's seventy five degrees outside and they all put on jackets to leave the train.

I can't describe why I like Florida as much as I do, but holy shit I'm glad to be back.

Afterward

My full route is here and here.  Here are my picture sets in order: Tallahassee to Raleigh, Raleigh to Baltimore, Baltimore to New York, and New York to Portland.


  • Dogs run free and wild in Georgia.  I was chased three times as much there as anywhere else and by whole groups.  No one locks them up.  I'm really upset about these dogs.
  • Old black guys in the South seemed to dig my trip a bunch.  Old white guys mostly seemed curmudgeonly about it, but a few were really into it.  Everyone else was pretty universally ambivalent.
  • If you have a beard people will let you stay in their house.
  • Bontrager shoe covers don't work for shit.  Axiom saddlebag zippers break.  Surly, Chrome, Acorn, Pentabike, Vans, BDG, and Blood is the New Black all produce stalwart and robust products.
  • Bananas and bungee chords are everywhere on the road.
  • The South has a lot of lumber, paper, and pulp mills that stop in Virginia.
  • The East Coast owns.
  • Drink beer, ride bikes, go fuck yourself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

King Ghidorah

Portland, Maine

Congratulations, Maine.  After 1700 miles, you're the one that broke me.

I leave late from Portsmouth in the rain.  The instant I cross the bridge into Maine my ipod stops working.  It's forty degrees and I don't stop shivering once my clothes get wet.  I stop at a small town shop where no one says a word to me or gives me a second mind. I stop later at a hair salon to use a blow dryer on my jacket.  It doesn't work, but the hairdressers throw some of my clothes in a dryer.  The dry clothes only last for a few minutes before the rain soaks through again and I'm in the same cold, water-logged position as before.

At dusk I have my third flat and fix it with the last remaining daylight.  I see the first lighting of the trip.  I didn't realize how much more prevalent it is in Florida.  The lightning knocks out the power going through a small town.  On an unlit highway with completely overcast sky, the only road I can see are the sections illuminated by headlights.  A truck pulls up to a stop sign at the intersection of a back country road.  I flash my lights and think he's seen me as I ride in front of him.  I get out something along the lines of "Oh shi-" before his grill finds my ribs.  Lying in the road I realize I'm not dead nor badly damaged and get up.  The driver gets out and talks to me.  His name is John and he wears a Patriots cap.  He left work on account of the power outage.  He's exceedingly nice, but I figure he's worried I'll sue him.  My first hit of the trip happens on the last ride.

I pull over to take a break.  My kickstand is loose from being hit and won't go up.  I get frustrated and throw my entire load down.  One of the kickstand legs lands on a toe.  It's only by chance I don't break it.  I continue, still cold and wet.  Eventually, I stop feeling my fingers and wonder how cold it has to be for frostbite.  I ride a little longer and stop at an Italian restaurant.  I thaw my hands in the bathroom sink.  Before I leave , I see snow flurries falling and melting in front of street lights.  I ask the hostess how far it I am from Portland.  She tells me around 16 miles.  I say fuck it and call a cab to take me the rest of the way.  The goal was Maine, not Portland, and I don't need those last 16 miles.  You can have them, Maine.

I get to my host Rond Talp's house and take a shower, seeing for the first time all the scratches and bruises of the day.  Midway through the ride I wondered why people cried at the end of long trips.  Yeah it's a long way, but why would you get that emotional about the end of it?  Exhausted, sore, and beaten I sat in a chair and contemplated the benefits of crying or not.  I decide not to, as I didn't figure it'd give me any great catharsis.  I didn't invest enough emotion into this trip to find some great release at its end.  Maybe I'm approaching the whole thing from the wrong perspective, but eh.

The next day, I run around in a panic until I find a bike shop to ship my bike back.  I start breaking it down around back to avoid a disassembly fee.  A couple starts using a the store wall for a photoshoot.  Both in their thirties and bundled up, the woman gets topless and covers herself while the man writes things like "Impact Or Be Gone" on her in black ink.  He wraps her chest in electrical tape and takes pictures with an old timey camera.  I get to peep some boob between shots.

Once my bike is packed to go, I run around the city until nightfall.  I find a small shack on the coast for lobster.  I had used lobster as the excuse for going to Maine.  My entire trip culminated in the meat between its steaming, red carapace.  On this trip I've had my first experiences with non-shrimp crustaceans and they've been the most gruesome, visceral things I've ever done.  You break the shit out of them.  I don't want to miss any opportunity with my lobster and eat the tomally and eyes.

I get back to Rond's and we talk about his travels around Europe and discuss shoplifting techniques.  He tells me about his friend who injured his eye and had it removed because he was partying rather than taking care of it.  I've had a corneal ulcer and that shit sucks.  I can't fathom being cool with losing an eye.  Now he drops his glass eye into people's beers to get free drinks.  Other than his crazy friend, Rond is a neat dude and gives me a hit of acid to take back with me.  I leave the next morning at five.

Meaning  

The question of a meaning to life is stupid.  It presumes there's a meaning to anything.  If the universe is deistically derived with some ultimate plan of God's will, then maybe.  But seriously? Pfft.  A belief in random, aimless interactions may not seem the cheeriest perspective, but avoids the difficulties of attributing them to a grand beneficent ruler who shows caring through roundabout, backwards ways.  Assuming an atheistic universe, there is no inherent "meaning" to anything, save for future interactions between things slated to happen (if you're into that kind of thing).

Something doesn't need to have meaning to have value.  Unless your value judgments are based wholly on the original intention behind some thing, value doesn't require meaning.  Value isn't confined to the same strict standards as meaning.  Meaning requires intention or purpose.  Value is appreciation for its own sake.  Only babies argue that any value not predicated on meaning is worthless.

Lobster.
As far as meaning for the trip, it was motivated by fear.  I graduated a year early and without enough warning to adequately prepare myself for entering the corporate world.  I don't plan to move from the East Coast and wanted to figure out which places I like.  I was afraid if I didn't take this trip now I wouldn't be able to later, and would use the same excuses to shirk doing other Cool Shit.  Someone said this was a transitional journey for me.  At first I fought the designation, but it totally is.  I didn't have any epiphany or eye-opening experience.  Now I'm just comfortable to settle and get a job.  Goddamn though, being transient and getting fucked up a lot is mad fun.

Maine Kill Count 
Raccoon: 1
Small Bird: 1
Squirrel: 1
Unknown: 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First As Tragedy, Then Ass Farts

Portsmouth, New Hampshire 

I don't have a place to stay here initially.  After the trouble in Hartford and with a town this small, I don't trust finding the local scene on my own here.  I contact someone through the internet and see if they know anyone in the area who might put me up.  He gives me the number of Mort Thoups.

Again, I ride through the same miserable cold and rain.  My motivation for the trip has changed.  There's now an obvious end to it, I've blown a ton of money, and  have seen the coolest stuff already.  It's now a matter of completion and I have a schedule to keep.  I'm not unhappy to end the trip, I need money and want to establish myself somewhere again.  I've hung out with awesome people and their friends, but only for a few hours each time.  It's fun because everything's new and the people are neat, but I'm feeling that it'd be more gratifying to plant myself somewhere and get into a local scene, rather than getting a temporary glimpse of other peoples' cool places.  And I really fucking need money.

I ride by my first wind turbine.  It's real big.  I pass through small Amtiyville towns; little fishing communities which all seem to have a strip joint.  

I reach Portsmouth and drink in some bar after bouncing around the city.  A young woman sits at the bar and talks to a young man.  I think he's gay, but find out he's from New Zealand.  I imagine they have gays there too, though.  The gay New Zealander flirts with the girl fruitlessly.  She mentions something about her father being in his winter home in Florida, and I'm infuriated as I encounter another instance of the assholes of my state from their environment.  The New Zealander's older Scotish friend comes over and starts talking to the two.  He flirts with the girl in the lazy, indifferent way old guys hit on younger women, long since out of their range.  He posses no threat, but the New Zealander becomes visibly defensive, separating them with his body, flirting harder, and moaning about getting stood up by some other girl or something.

I get a call from Mort and meet him down the street as he closes up at work.  We get beer and I eat the pizza he made for me at work.  His gay friend joins us and we discuss where I fucked up getting laid on the trip and the difference in promiscuity between straights and gays.  He thinks it wouldn't have been as difficult had I been gay.  Mort offers to let me stay longer, but I already have my train tickets to be in Florida for Halloween.  Again, I love these guys.

Everything 

I can't think of a good place for this so I'm putting it here.  It seems as good as any considering the stuff that exists here doesn't exist any less than the things existing elsewhere.  I took a metaphysics class in college.  We talked about all the intangible, unanswerable questions whose only support comes from intuition.  That could be said of all philosophy, but metaphysics in particular seems to lack a "common sense" theory that can be appealed to.  Even in that class we never touched existence.  How would you define it?  It just is.

The more I think about existence the more pervasive it seems.  Obviously anything perceptible has to exist.  The abstractions of thought that philosophers raise as obstacles to a purely materialist view of the universe are too manifestations of physical processes that can be traced back to existence.  Nothingness has a harder time being found.  Space looks to be full of a vast nothingness, but physicists say it's dark energy and matter.  I don't understand the finer points of these concepts, but I feel pretty safe in saying these things are extant in the same way common energy and matter are.  So where is nothing?  Is nothing just that which fills the void between atoms, or is that role held by these dark materials?  The problem is implicit in trying to finding where nothingness resides.  Nothing can't exist.  If nothing existed it would be something, and thus not nothing.  It is dictated by existence that something predicated on its non-existence would have to exist outside of the realm of extant things or be something that could exist, making it distinctly not nothing.

It was hard for me to conceptualize until I started thinking about boundaries.  Where would the boundary between nothingness and somethingness stop?  Why would one brush against the other without one giving?  Replacing nothingness with somethingness in this case doesn't solve the issues.  When do interactions between somethings occur?  Is there some moment in extremely minute measurements of time that would show causation?

There can't be existence from non-existence.  We know that atoms are composed of neutrons, protons, and electrons, and those of quarks and gluons.  That Hardon Collider is trying to find something of a similar size in the Higgs boson, but should they find it it too would be made of something and that of something, ad infinitum.  Something cannot come from nothing and movement cannot come from stillness.  If the universe is not all pervasive and infinite and exists in some metaverse, that too cannot have nothing.  I don't understand infinity and don't know if things extend in all directions and time forever or loop in on themselves.  Looping might answer the concern about origination by deflecting it.  There couldn't have been a first movement or a first mass, it has and will always be.  All I'm left with is a jumble of mass and time turning in on itself infinitely.  Nothing can't exist and everything is everything in all directions forever.

Three years in school and I get a philosophy degree so I can come unsettlingly close to being that stoner that pontificates "What if, like, every atom is a universe..."

New Hampshire Kill Count 
Rat: 2 
Squirrel: 1

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kill Your Crew

Boston, Massachusetts  

I told Dior and her mother that I'd experienced the worst conditions of the trip already so the rest would be smooth sailing.  The Fates reward my hubris with heavy rain and head winds, through a cold I imagine not unfamiliar to New England.  I stop at a small diner before I leave Providence where a guy buys my breakfast after minimal conversation.  I thank him and he tells me "Welcome to Rhode Island."  I'm through Rhode Island in the next half hour.  I pass by the complex where the Patriots play.  The stadium is nestled among department stores and a mall.  The parking lot is the size of any at Disney.  I get close to the Boston area and stop to get out of the elements.  It's a mistake.  Standing still makes me lose any body heat I had riding and become suddenly aware of all the water absorbed into my clothes.  I stop in a Chili's and am upset when the waitress I'm flirting with doesn't inquire about my outfit, or my riding in the rain, or my questions about Boston's proximity.  I can't decide if flirting for tips is equatable to prostitution.  (It is.)

I'm staying with Macia Japalin, a friend from college.  I'm completely soaked by the time I reach her house.  Luckily there isn't a dryer in the house so I hold a hairdryer to my shoes and sweater.

I'm glad I get to hang out with Macia because I didn't much in college.  We had some classes together and studied sometimes, but never really hung out for the sake of hanging out.  She traveled in similar circle to the one I did, connected mostly through the bike scene, but hers was more interested in caring about stuff and trying to make a difference while mine was primarily focused on getting fucked up.  I only started talking to her the last semester we were both in school and didn't think it worth investing into making new friends right before I left.  I thought that a cop out, so I'm glad to circumvent my apathy and laziness by making up for it now.

I ride around Cambridge and sneak into the MIT museum.  They have holographic pictures, and that robot that looks like a scalped Gizmo, and some kinetic sculptures I had seen on the internet.  I move onto Harvard, which seems to be the most stereotypical Ivy of any I've seen on the trip.  It emanates a distinctly pompous "I go to Harvard, so fuck you," vibe.  Again, around MIT and Harvard are a bunch of cute girls but I can't tell if that's on account of the schools or Boston's well known good stock.  Anyone not a cute girl here appears to be Asian or Irish, the latter of which projecting a pale glow of recessive genes that's most accurately described as "gross." 

Macia, her roommates, and I go down to Occupy Boston to hear Noam Chomsky speak.  He's hard to hear and advocates a long-term, continued approach to the protest if it's to be successful.  He commends the protesters on Occupy the Hood in which the middle-class white folks protesting march into the hood where cuts to programs for the poor are actually felt.  I thought it sounded like a dumb fucking idea, but Chomsky seemed to dig it.  After his speech we followed an impromptu march around downtown Boston, through a crowded indoor market, past a fancy restaurant full of suits, and along apartment blocks where Olds awoke from their 9 o'clock slumbers and watched from their windows with bros legitimately pissed about people not respecting their degrees in marketing.

The next day, one of Macia's roommates and another guest plan to drop acid and walk around the arboretum before going to a Lantern on the Water festival.  I'm alerted to the fact that the roommate sells mushrooms and instinctively buy them.  Instead of following them to look at trees, I sit in comfort at the house watching youtubes I had saved for such an occasion.  Instead of the usual conceptual confusion about humanity I have tripping, this time I just enjoy myself and want to pet the roommate's dog.  10,000 years of selective breeding and domestication and I can't cuddle a dog because he's afraid to step over some cords.  Animals are dumb.

The rest of the house returns and we walk to the lantern festival.  We get there as some guy is blowing up at a couple about their dog.  There's a band playing and kids in Halloween costumes walking around the pond with lanterns they had made.  We make a lap and it's awesome to see Halloween in New England, especially while tripping.  The Halloween color scheme makes more sense against the backdrop of Autumn foliage.  It's easy to pick out the families that have lived here for generations, and it makes sense why they would stay.  I ask the roommate about her trip and she tells me a story about some parents who were yelling for their lost kid.  She says she followed a squirrel's positive aura and they find the kid.  I tell her I have no idea what she's talking about.

Solipsism 

I never intended to go on this trip with anyone else.  I mentioned it in passing to a friend who I knew wouldn't end up going, so there would be some truth to the lie I would tell my parents.  Up until a few weeks before my departure they thought my friend would accompany me.  When I told my mom that my friend "dropped out" she burst into tears and pleaded with me not to go.  After a certain point I stopped trying to rationalize it to her and told her to get over it, because I was going regardless.

The whole idea of explaining solipsism seems counter intuitive unless you already buy into it.  I don't argue that there aren't objective truths of reality accessible to everyone, but any significant information beyond raw integers is inevitably colored by subjectivity.  If all information comes through perception it's subject to personal associations and biases.  Expression is filtered through inclinations and limited by language.  More important than whether science is commensurable between different agents is whether the agents can ever understand what the other is thinking.  Subjectivity doesn't change the temperature nitrogen solidifies at or the genotypes of birds.  Solipsism just alienates our thoughts from others'.  In so many words I can describe a triangle to someone who has no experience of a triangle adequately enough for them to conceptualize one.  In the same way consciousness as a concept may be explainable, but the resultant experience is wholly personal and incommunicable.  There isn't enough time or enough words to fully elucidate the minute details of one's thoughts or experiences at any given moment to another.  Most people are worried by the prospect of dying alone.  The real tragedy being that we all live alone.

Morose though it seems, communication of personal experience isn't necessary for understanding others.  It's an exercise in futility.  What is obtainable is a mutual appreciation of others' experiences despite their inaccessibility.  It's  understanding others by knowing you never can.


When not left to my thoughts, riding alone, hour after hour, I'm hanging out with complete strangers.  I'd feel distressingly incompetent if I tried to relate to each of them on some deeply personal level.  I am around these people for a few hours, and despite knowing little of their histories, I feel remarkably familiar with them.  They are friendships based on the shared sentiment of "You seem neat, please don't murder me."  That's all it need to be, not grasping at historic threads to better understand someone, but appreciating them for the experiences you share, regardless of whatever personal variation there is in perception.

Massachusetts Kill Count 
Large Bird: 1
Mole: 2
Opossum: 1
Raccoon: 2
Rat: 5
Skunk: 1
Small Bird: 2
Snake: 2
Squirrel: 10
Turtle: 4
Unknown: 10

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tenzing Norgay

Providence, Rhode Island 

Leaving Hartford I'm stopped by a man on the street who starts asking about my trip.  He pulls out a video camera to interview me.   I'm agitated but talk to him a bit.  He asks: "Aren't you worried about riding around out here?  It ain't safe for white boys like you and me."  I'm weirded out and tell him I'm not worried about it.  He says I might not get messed with on account of my beard which he calls "intimidating."  He asks if I'm making an account of the trip and I lie.  I said my name, so presumably he could get in touch with me, but bump that, I'm not associating with that guy.

I tell my host, Dior Nepcer, when I get into town.  She's busy so I sit around for a few hours until she texts to tell me her phone died.  I'm staying with her, her mother, and her sister.  I worry about the family dynamic, lest I have another Pawley's Island situation.  I see exceedingly little of the sister, but Dior and her mother are nice. I have a friend who goes to Brown here, but I don't realize the school's in Providence until I run into it.  I hope to find Emma Watson here to ask for her hand.  Not surprisingly, I don't find her.  Surprisingly, the talent is pretty spectacular here, especially for an Ivy.  I text a friend this and he reminds me that Brown is the state school of the Ivies.  If the other Ivies have the same talent I will regret not having done better in school.

I see an old railroad bridge I want to take pictures of behind a supermarket.  I walk through some brush to get to it, but there aren't any trespassing signs posted.  I see an art piece on one of the girders that I recognize from pictures earlier on the trip in some gallery.  The walkway along the bridge has long since decayed so I have to walk between the bumps on steel beams and grab the random wooden posts still standing.  I reach the platform at the end and start taking pictures.  A boat full of fishermen look on.  Another pulls up and I faintly hear someone yell "Don't fall, man."  I'm insulted he thinks I need the advice.  On the way back I notice a tag on the beam saying "DON'T DIE DROID."  I'm glad everyone seems to care.  I go back to Dior's and we smoke in front of her mother.  It's the first time I've smoked around a parent.

Boundaries 

I've never been completely comfortable being intoxicated around my parents, especially when I think they suspect it.  I think it has something to do with lowered inhibitions or some misplaced sense of shame for being not sober.  My defense mechanism is to pretend any change in behavior is due to some unnamed frustration or I just say I'm tired.  Even though it's mildly uncomfortable being in an altered state around my parents, it happens on occasion and is largely a tolerable unease.  I can't imagine getting mutually intoxicated with a parent.  My dad offers me beers, but not with the intention for me to get drunk.  I'd like to have a discourse about my habits, but I don't think I'd like to actually smoke with my dad.  The situation is different with siblings, as I have no hesitation getting fucked up around my brother.  There's some boundary with my parents that I don't care to cross.  I'm not sure why I stick to these arbitrary restrictions or from where they originate, but seriously, my dad still calls it dope.  How do you even communicate with that?

Rhode Island Kill Count 
Cat: 1
Chipmunk: 3
Deer: 1
Rat: 2
Small Bird: 3
Squirrel: 10
Unknown: 3

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Costume Hats (for Kids)

Hartford, Connecticut

I have my first flat not long after my Mason's tour.  1,500 miles without incident and I get my first fucking flat.  I patch up and move through the countryside.  Aside from this setback, the Lord hath smiled upon me the past few days and granted me a quick backwind to tarry me over Connecticut's sloping hills.  It's a beautiful ride with the foliage just beginning to turn.  I would find out later there are entire groups of people who come here to see this.  The locals call them "leafers" and they come by the busload from around the world, especially Japan.  Entire tours dedicated to the decaying remnants of a chlorophyll-less leaf.

I see mortorless rock walls along the way that have probably been there for a century.  The shitty ones are easy to distinguish from the old.  I become curious about the skill in stacking a good rock wall that lasts for decades, but the interest passes with the walls themselves.  I realize the season when I see the first Halloween decorations go up.  I don't understand the fascination with skeletons; they don't even have muscles.  Skinless is scarier than muscleless.

Again, I don't have a place to stay and begin my search for dive bars the second I enter the city.  Downtown Hartford is completely devoid of the normal crowd I ask to stay with.  I see a fixie locked atop a fence near a bar.  I write my number and a request for a place I could find cool kids in town on a notecard and put it in the spokes.  I ask some bartenders about the scene and they mention a few bars and a punk house somewhere in West Hartford.  I go to one of the other bars and they only recommend the house.  They know the street but not the address.  I ride up and down the street searching for any sign of a punk house.  A teenage girl on her roof talks on the phone.  I ask if she's familiar with a punk house on the street.  She looks bewildered and stammers out a  no.  My question isn't that unusual, you're the one talking on your fucking roof.  Fuck me though, right?

I ride the opposite way and pass a house playing loud metal.  It sounds like there's band practice in the basement.  Derelict couches and empty beer cans sit on the front porch, leading me to the think I've found the right place.  I ring the doorbell and knock with no response.  I wait on the porch until a guy comes by and asks what I'm doing.  I explain my situation.  He asks how easy it was to find the place and seems justifiably leery.  He agrees to let me stay on the thought that my things are more expensive than anything in the house.

We smoke and my host's friends come over.  One of them, Rad Froth, has a beard and a shaved head, save for a small square of long hair sprouting from the back of his head.  Rad seems knowledgeable about bud.  I tell him about a stereotype I've encountered on multiple occasions on this trip about Floridians having an affinity for gravity bongs.  I heard vague allusions to this belief in Savannah, Richmond, and Philadelphia before I start asking people their grav bong / stoner house ratio.  They say maybe one in every dozen or half dozen.  In Florida nearly everyone I know who smokes has one, making my ratio at the very least one in two.  I'm surprised by how widespread this stereotype is and the fact it's a stereotype at all.  More than that, it seems to be well founded.  Rad believes Florida's love of grav bongs is due to the lack of growers and the predominantly shitty weed there, leading people to get baked in the quickest, most efficient way.  I don't see issue with the grower statement or the theory, but I don't entirely agree with the shit weed designation.  I know for a fact good weed is accessible there.

I ask Rad to look at my stash.  He identifies it by smell alone as "beatties," something he smoked throughout high school.  He isn't critical of it saying, "There's nothing wrong with it if it gets you stoned, man."  He tells me he'll throw me bud before I leave.  I ask my host if I can stay an extra night, but he's hesitant about making that commitment to a stranger.  Rad offers to put me up for the next night.

I accompany my host to a Food Not Bombs meeting and we ride around Hartford's empty, weekend streets.  I talk to one of Hartford's resident anarchist protesters.  He's an integral figure for Food Not Bombs in Hartford and was involved in the initial stages of the Occupy movement here.  He's disenfranchised with the local movement and those supporting it.  He says within two days of planning two people jumped the gun to camp out.  He thinks they were undercover cops planted to disrupt the protest by starting it preemptively.  As a result, Occupy Hartford didn't have a constant presence and was currently empty.

After hanging out with my host for awhile he agrees to let me stay another night if I want.  I don't want to be rude and change my plans with Rad and I'm always down to stay with new people if possible.  I wait at an intersection for Rad with my bike packed.  Some cops hassle me because there have been robberies in the area.  I guess they think it's possible to burgle with a bike.

I meet up with Rad and find out that he too is a dealer.  My girl luck on this trip is shit, but my weed luck is incredible.  Rad is now the second dealer I've stayed with without any looking or connections. We make deliveries by bike around Hartford, but unlike Philly I don't follow him into the houses.  Once we finish we go to a denim factory where his friends work and hang out.  Everyone beside me is wearing some article of clothing produced here.  Rad's friends have a newly formed band and tonight's their first practice.  They're already committed to play at a bar in a week.  They discuss possible band names and decide on "Free Jazz."  They joke about what constitutes jazz, arbitrarily defining it by anything they want to do.  I hear my second set of gunshots of the trip sitting by a window overlooking the city.  Apparently there are microphones that pick up on it and send dispatches.

We get back to Rad's place and I find out he doesn't have a bed or couch for me, but he does have a big ass comforter.  He takes his dog out which gets sprayed by a skunk.  Apparently that's a common thing up North.  The stink burns the nose with a chemical smell.  I sleep on the comforter in my hoodie.  It's not so bad.  I let Rad's kitten into the room and he pisses on the comforter.  Before I leave Rad gives me a gram of what he dubs "the dankest Connecticut has to offer," on the basis that I'm traveling, smoke weed, and that his friends didn't think I was a "sketchball."

Queed

I didn't mean for this blog to become mostly about weed, but that's what has seemed to have happened.  It's not entirely my fault, I've just been dealt a good hand or a lot more people smoke than I had anticipated.  I talked to my friend recently about stoner culture.  I've since taken his opinion on the matter, making this the closest thing to a guest piece on this blog.  We have a fondness for getting high and do so often.  He doesn't attribute anything to it greater than a desire to get high.  We both hate the culture specifically based and wholly oriented around weed.  You don't need to wear a shirt with a pot leaf on it like some stoner merit badge.  Most of stoner culture is pseudospiritual trash and masturbatory trichromatic patterns of red, green, and yellow.  Not that this would normally matter, but people who just like to get stoned get lumped in by association.  I don't want weed to be a lifestyle beyond the base desire it fulfills.  That's the only reason I like it.  I don't need to listen to fucking 311 for that.

Connecticut Kill Count  
Bunny: 1
Chipmunk: 3
Dog: 1
Mole: 3
Opossum: 3
Raccoon: 1
Skunk: 3
Small Bird: 4
Snake: 3
Squirrel: 15
Turtle: 2
Unknown: 9

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eggplant Caviar

New Haven, Connecticut


I don't have a place for New Haven while in New York.  I send a last minute request to a dozen different people for the next day.  Soon after I get a bunch of texts back from potential hosts offering their place. I get a call and the phone talks to me with a Russian accent I can't entirely understand.  It says I can stay and gives me an unintelligible name that I have to cross reference with my requests to make out.


I make it to the New Haven train station where there is a chaotic, comical amount of honking between cars trying to enter.  I call my host to get directions and have to ask her to repeat herself frequently.  I don't want to keep asking and have to identify the streets by the few syllables I recognize from our conversation.  I meet my host who's easier to understand in person.  I'm naturally inattentive so I only pay attention to every other word, but with her accent I only understand every fourth.  She has a massage chair I use for an hour and turn my back to a sore jelly.  I spend too much money on some shit Irish American food at a bright, loud "pub."  There's a bartender with a large scar across his right eye.  I wait to hear him speak so I feel justified in believing him to be an IRA bomb maker.  He speaks with an American accent and I feel my dinner has been a waste.


The next day an American, Italian, and Russian walk into a bakery.  I eat a canoli and eclair for breakfast.  As I'm leaving I ride past a freemason's lodge.  They're having an open house and offering free food.  Obviously I take advantage of the opportunity and eat three donuts and some turkey.  I get a tour of the building in my "Church Burners" jersey and regret not bringing in my camera.  I'm lead by a fat, middle-aged white guy who takes me into an Egyptian themed room.  There are two sets of seats along the walls facing each other, an alter in the center, and an organ and throne opposite each other on the far walls. The walls are painted with fake hieroglyphics and a plaster sculpture of a sphinx is embedded above the throne.  The guide takes great pains to emphasize that it's a real organ.  I ask about the reason for the vague conspiracies people attribute to the masons.  The guide explains that their meetings aren't open to the public and they've been around for a long time, which leads people to think they have more influence than they do.  If these guys really did control everything we would have the most boring, unassuming rulers ever.  They're all balding white guys with beer bellies, so I guess not terribly different than the ruling class.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What the fuck is that? Egg babies?

New York, Pt. 3 

I saw a video on the internet of a guy hopping around subway tunnels and the Williamsburg bridge.  I pass over the same bridge many times and think climbing it would be a cool thing to do.  I set it as a goal for before I leave.

I've been tired and getting over my body attempting to be sick.  I don't particularly want to do it, but feel I no longer have a choice as I've devoted myself to the idea.  I leave Olivia's at one.  I ride to the bridge and lock my bike to the railing on the cycling path, near the intersection of the pedestrian and bike paths.  I cross to the pedestrian side with the lesser traffic and head to the supports.  A few people pass by, but not enough for me to wait long.

I hop over the fence onto the trusses and crawl up, pulling myself through the intersections between them. My camera rests on my back and hits the girders as I move through.  Two stories up I'm able to bypass the barrier blocking the stairwell and use it the rest of the way.  I wait in the corners for breaks in traffic to climb, lest some overzealous cab or truck driver calls me in. There are two dead birds on the walkway.  I can't determine if they were killed by a bird of prey or by running into the bridge.  

I reach the top of the stairwell and find the ladder leading to the top of the bridge is locked.  I hold a keychain light between my teeth as I try to open the combination lock reading "7777."  "0000" doesn't work, and I try some easily identifiable numbers to no avail.  I think about going through the 9,999 combinations to get to the top, but get frustrated and quit in the first hundreds.  In the space through the latch I see graffiti from those who succeeded in getting where I couldn't.  I wonder if they knew the combination or if it was added after their visit.

I sit on the cat walk and chief, just to say I did.  I begin taking pictures and stabilize my camera on the railing and my leg.  It's difficult to get low light pictures of the city on rounded, shaky surfaces.  After the novelty of being up there wears off, I head down.  I hop down the stairs, pausing again with the flow of traffic.  I nearly step on one of the birds in my rush on the way down.

I transfer from the stairs to truss.  I have trouble determining how I should get through the gaps in the girders.  I hang my camera in front of me and lower myself through.  Halfway down a truss, a meter maid drives down the path in their buggy.  I'm high enough to be out of sight and wait on the steel beam, giving the meter maid what I think is enough time to pass.  I climb down and jump over the fence.  My fall shakes the path.  I look over to see the meter maid's tricycle idling as he talks to two guys.  There's no place along the path I could have been to get behind him without passing me.  I immediately break out running in the opposite direction.  I realize this is more suspicious than the sound of my landing and start walking.  I continue to alternate between running and walking as I distance myself from the buggy.  It's too late to seem inconspicuous, but he isn't chasing me either.

I come to an opening in the path out of sight of the meter maid.  I contemplate jumping the fence again to walk down some stairs.  I don't know if it dead ends and decide against it.  Once completely out of sight, I break into a sprint.  I think about how much further I can run on account of this trip and about how far behind me that meter maid might be.  

I reach the end of the pedestrian path and retreat to the park at its end.  I stash my paraphernalia behind some vines in a corner and sit at a bench.  I take off my beanie and open my jacket.  I text a friend in preemptive celebration of my accomplishment.  The meter maid does a circle around the park.  He sees me and stops.  I look up and then back down to the text conversation indicting me of my actions.  He passes and I collect my goods and walk to my bike.  I ride back and get lost for an hour, but am glad I'm not arrested.  I think about the association between drug use and risk taking behavior.  That night I dream about people breaking their legs falling.

Drug Use and Risk Taking Behavior 

Drug use, beyond its bullshit spiritualism, is related to a change in perception.  The adrenaline and stress of an illegal or dangerous activity is a perception altering experience similar to drug use.  It is a feeling beyond that of common experience.  There are not many normal conditions that are life threatening or require hypervigilance.  Climbing unsuspended above a a highway is a good reminder of one's mortality.  Normal thought does not include the prospect of death or danger, so those that do cause an appropriate physiological response.  I don't know how often they do drugs, but thrill seekers always claim to do it "for the rush" or whatever cliche they're using now.

Deviation from the normal form of cognition is novel and engaging.  Often, risky behaviors and drug use come with the some rudimentary understanding of the risks involved.  Without any statistical or experimental data or the desire to find any to back it up, I think those more inclined to dangerous or risky behaviors are more inclined to drug use, and vice versa.


It was not only necessary for me to climb the Williamsburg bridge, but I felt I should smoke atop it as well.  Doing dangerous things or being high is removed from normal perception.  Alcohol has the benefit of legality, but everything else has the added benefit of risk.  The fear of being caught is as perceptually altering as the drugs themselves.  One of my most memorable moments now comes from an underpaid douche in a tricycle and the prospect of my essence smeared along the road.

New York Kill Count
Rat: 1
Small Bird: 3

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Covered in My Hair

New York, Pt. 2

I turned twenty-two today and my license expired.  I have to hope that no one looks at the expiration or are sympathetic to my situation.  I'm rarely carded now on account of my beard.  One of Olivia's friends is surprised when I tell her my age because of it.  A few grams of hair seem to add years to my face.

Olivia's friend, Lass Etahae, and I spend the day at the Natural History Museum, and it's awesome.  It's the perfect place to celebrate my birthday: amid taxidermied animals and Teddy Roosevelt quotes.  I'm glad Lass is patient as I nerd out on everything in the museum, explaining taxonomic differences between protostomes and dueterostomes and spewing anything I knew about the animals on display.  It ruled.  All I want to do is talk about biology forever.

After the museum, we return to Olivia's and the two of them fix a simple, home cooked meal.  I like the novelty of eating something home cooked in New York, or maybe I like the fact it's free.  We end the night at a barcade where I spend too much money.  It's a bar with old arcade games and I play a game with someone who shares my birthday.  It couldn't have fallen on a better place this trip.

The next day I get lost in Brooklyn and end up in the Hassidic community.  I go back later to take pictures.  An aryan with a facial hair gets a lot of uneasy glances around that area.  I could be projecting, or taking pictures there isn't common.  I start near a vendor selling materials for the religious holiday, Sukkot.  He's the second person to ask if I'm Jewish.  He says I can't take any pictures of him but I should get some of his wares and company banner.  He hustles me to agree to email him the pictures.  I don't know how I feel about giving him free advertisement after he orders me to take more pictures of his truck, or his bags full of sticks, or the Hispanic goy working for him.  Olivia throws out the paper with his email and I avoid an ethical dilemma.

There are beautiful women everywhere dressed in conservative spotted dresses and scarves.  All of them are with skinny, dweeby guys with curls and trench coats.  Olivia concurs with my statement.  I want to grab each of these girls and tell them how much more fun I am than their religious devotion.  Religious fundamentalism is despicable if only for the fact that it keeps these girls out of the general population.  I understand you're maintaining your cultural population, but at the humanitarian cost of confining these girls to their square clothes and marriages to guys with funny hats.

I ask a teenage vendor about the reeds he's selling.  He asks if I'm Jewish and says he doesn't speak English.  I can't tell if this is a way to ignore gentiles or if he actually can't speak English.  It seems genuine when he stumbles over sentence fragments to talk to me.

Isolation and Identity 

This isn't the first time I've seen complete isolation of a group from society.  In Virginia I went to an Asian buffet and asked the waitress where we were.  She didn't know.  How can someone live in an area and not know what it's called?


On my visit to Chinatown I see a precesion for the anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Republic.  There are officials waving from balconies, uniformed guards marching with a flag, and onlookers saying things I can't understand.  Some of them seem interested, some indifferent, and the rest annoyed.  I have no knowledge of any of the cultural background information required to understand this.  Within a few city blocks are completely autonomous cultures separate from the majority.  

Most of the Hasids in Brooklyn have lived here their entire lives, but retain the same Central European pronunciations of their grandparents through their insular community.  I can't imagine the kind of confinement needed for that.  I guess at some point it's voluntary based on a cultural pride or lack of desire to assimilate into common society.  Although there are things like Rumspringa and the drug problem with Hasidic teens.  Without adequate cultural exposure, a sudden ability to endulge in vices can be destructive.

I think my confusion comes from my views on cultural identity.  It's not difficult to find people bound to their culture or race.  Ethnicities populate neighborhoods, fly flags and banners, and open a pub.  They subscribe to an identity in whatever word they place before "American" when describing themselves.

My ancestors are from the Midwest, but I'm not.  I have no exposure to distinctly German communities and I'm not sure I'd want to.  "German American culture" sounds boring, and I'm not Irish enough to jump into the drunken mob of half Irish who cry whenever they hear The Pogues.  I can't appeal to any cultural identity of my own.  Even my living in Florida makes me question my identity.  I've been raised in a state in the geographic South, but not The South, constituted by an urban majority of people from the North.  I can't even follow any demarcations across the Union.  I'm a Yankee to Southerners and not included in the South by Northerners.  I'm a non-regional American with no significant identifiers other than being from the East Coast.  That's why I took this trip, because fuck the West.


I've come to accept that my identity is one of a generalized American, lacking any connection to some country or ethnicity beyond that.  I'm from Florida and share the same cultural experiences as any white, middle-class kid from the suburbs, save for some environmental variation.  Anyone who watches media relating to an American experience not tied to a specific region has a direct exposé on what I and millions of other kids grew up in.  I used to despise the idea of this commensurablity with a white-bread generalized majority.  It's my identity, accessible though it may be.  I don't feel the need to do the typical thing of ethnocentric people and reduce my identity to what fraction of my genes are from which plots of land.  I'm not one thirty-second Cherokee or Czech, as though that would matter.  I'm not Irish or German enough to give a shit about either.  I am distinctly, categorically, and completely ordinarily American.  Maybe that's boring, but shut up, because you don't know shit about where I'm from that you didn't get from the T.V.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Brita Water Filter Juice

New York, New York

I ride through Newark and understand a little better people's opinions of Jersey.  My own doesn't change. I take the train into New York.  It's a short ride past huge swaths of graffiti and exposed stone from where they blasted away the hillside.  It looks like a geology presentation held together with mesh wire and then vandalized.

I'm not able to find a subway station with an elevator before rush hour.  I ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn completely geared up.  I'm staying with Olivia, my roommate from last year.  I meet her other friends who are all coincidentally staying with her at the same time.  They're neat and mature and I dig that.  We go to a bar where I realize I haven't eaten much that day and am starting to get sick from a contaminated joint in Philly.  The next day I feel worse and am glad for the reprieve from riding as I accompany Olivia and her friends around the normal city sights.

I visit Occupy Wall Street.  It's crowded with shirtless hippies, idealistic students, and teenagers trying to get laid.  There are piles of clothes and cots set up as makeshift homes for the protesters.  Scattered imagery of peace symbols and Che Guevara abound as an off beat drum circle lets out periodic yelps from its performers.  I run into an acquaintance I knew from Orlando who came just to be part of the protest.  There are a few people who seem knowledgeable about the issues with informed opinions, but most look oblivious and are just groovin' off the positive vibes and chakras, man.  It feels like Burning Man but with T.V. cameras.  Police surround the barricade of protesters, each carrying a dozen plastic restraints, while annoyed businessmen glare at the crowd from the boundary.  I've already expressed my thoughts on protest, but the whole event seems ineffective.

In the subway station a man kicks over a panhandling drummer's collection tub and the money lands on the track.  The panhandler follows the man who ignores him.  The drummer is funny and talks shit well.  New Yorkers aren't mean, they're just forward.  I'm staying in Williamsburg which has a drastically different population from Manhattan.  I've seen more trendy people here than anywhere else, many of them fashionable in ways I can't even comprehend.  I saw a guy with a curly quiff and unkempt beard wearing a punk shirt and dirty work overalls; I couldn't tell if it was ironic or what he genuinely liked.  I'm not sure what to make of these people.  Either the hipsters here are on some next level shit or will inevitably be embarrassing tarnishes to family photo albums.

Irony

I'm writing this from bar in Williamsburg.  It's exploiting my basic desires: every beer I buy gets me a free pizza while a show about bikers plays.  A lot of the people here seem genuine about what they like, but every now and again someone passes in front of the bar in an outfit I can't imagine as being worn with genuine intent.

One of the pervasive characteristics of my generation - or more specifically hipsters - is their reliance or propensity toward irony.  Rather than become apathetic and morose about the perceived futility of modern life, this group embraces things not valued by the majority of society.  Dorky glasses and NASCAR shirts are hiptacular.  Obviously untrendy by definition, the ironic designs taken by hipsters tend to be tacky in such a way to make a statement about the person for whom the design was originally made.

Life is futile and sincerity shows you aren't aware of that fact.  Instead of the angsty, emotional, reactionary rebellion of grunge, indie culture uses irony as its crux.  I'm not sure what started this initially, but as is the case with myself, it makes complete sense if irony is a defense mechanism of nerdy kids.  You can make fun of someone for being sincere, but if they do it first it takes the sport out of it.  Saying you already know your outfit is stupid makes it more difficult to criticize.  But from this comes weird confusions of what is sincere from meta-ironic.  Is this art legitimately good or good by pain of it being legitimately bad?  It's hard to keep up with what to like for itself or for the sake of irony.

Maybe it's a response to modern culture.  Like some stupid Warholian reasoning of common society constituting what is cool, but not for the reason they think.  The welder in Minnesota thinks that wolf shirt is appealing and says something about him while the hipster feels the same because of the welder.  It's an expression of intellectual superiority as the welder won't understand what the hipster wears, but the hipster thinks he does.  Vintage shops are popular spots because of the old, lame shit they have, so hipsters can buy it and compliment each other about finding such a boss Sweet Tarts belt buckle.  It's tacky and garish but shows your devotion to finding cooky and obscure shit.  I want to say it's banal and bullshit in a contradiction that would highlight exactly what I'm talking about, just toward hipsters rather than the majority.  It's mostly bullshit, but what else do you do?  Wear sports jerseys or utilitarian beige?  It's not opposed to society, but based off it in a different way than normal.  Society then bases itself off of alternative fashions which leads to the indie alteration of those, potentially spiraling into a circle of bastardization that hopefully won't lead to something as grotesque as the 80s.

Yeah you, twat.
I hate having to figure out what the basis of my motivations are, so I generally assume they're sincere.  But even in my writing I second guess my thoughts, or something.  I think it's easier to confuse people about your reasoning when you don't understand it yourself.  My sincerity might only be to the irony that identifies me as a hipster.   It could just be tribal mechanics funneling people to stick with their cultural clade.  I wonder what clade the guy with the poofy, curled mohawk and capris fits into other than "unemployed shithead."

I talk to a twenty year native of Williamsburg.  We walk around and he tells me about the development of the neighborhood.  He points at an expensive coffee joint that used to be a metal foundry.  He deems its patrons twats.  I run into similar twats later, walking near the abandoned sugar factory discussing urban planning and how the land is best divided.

The gentrification here is shameless with million dollar lofts feet away from rusted junk yards.  I don't know how I feel about it all.  Obviously it's an awesome place with lots of cool places and people, but the migration here was caused by a desire for culture.  Once the neighborhood is gentrified and reassigned as a hip place, it loses that initial culture in exchange for that of the migrant horde's.  That's all good, but the original culture upon which the migration was based withers and disappears.  It's some sense of living in a place that's "real" or just not suburban.  Nirvana, or Rage Against The Machine, or whatever bullshit counterculture bands became just as commercial as any of the shit they rallied against.  So why fight it?  Embrace the mundane consumerist culture but do so with a sense of understanding and pretentious superiority.

It took me coming to New York to buy a shirt from Orlando.  It's a tank top from Universal Studios with a design they haven't used since the early 90s.  I would never think about wearing a Universal shirt now with a  current design, but this appeals to me with it's outdated neon colors and the way it shows off my farmer's tan.  There's something about it being old and not currently worn by the people who would've originally bought it that makes it attractive to me.  Or it's the fact that I wouldn't have worn it in its own time.  I guess it's ironic.  It's cool because it's lame.  I'm never sure, though.  I envy those deities who are able to operate on four meta-levels of irony, while I can barely maintain the one.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bitchin' Miata, Bro

New Brunswick, New Jersey 

I've not gone far into Jersey, and granted I haven't seen Atlantic or Jersey City, but it doesn't seem so bad.  I mean, I get it, there's a lot of urban sprawl, but good Christ, for the collective shit people take on Jersey you'd think it wholly composed of rapists.  Parts are pretty and parts are poor, but on the whole I see little difference between it here and any other state.  I understand it's not the best, but she ain't so bad.

My friend grew up in this town.  The people here are either Hispanic, or hate cyclists, or both.  I don't realize I can stay with my friend's family until I've arrived at my host's house.  The host and her roommate express themselves through internet memes and loud 90s pop music.  It's intolerable, but they're nice enough.  I go to bed early, sober, and having no great desire to spend more time with those giving me shelter.

Nostalgia 

Hurray!
For my hosts, these banal 90s hits are humorous and attractive.  It recalls for them a time less predominated by responsibilities or obligations.  No one in the house was past middle school when these songs were released.  It's not the songs themselves but the feeling of nostalgia that comes with listening to them.  I'd like to say it's ironic but I think it's more infantile.

Before heading to Tampa to live, I sat in my Oldsmobile in an old chiefing spot in Orlando and smoked   It had been years, and I'm not up to date on the latest state dependent memory research, but not long after partaking I was overcome with intense nostalgia and a sense of deja vu.  My nostalgia wasn't limited to the thoughts and feelings of the previous times spent there, but to the nostalgia I felt at those times too.  It was less about the emotions I felt each time than the similarity between them at different instances.  It's an enjoyment about how at different points individual characteristics vary, but in essence I'm the same nostalgic stoned dude in the same spot I had been before.

The difference between my hosts and I is that I'm aware of the comforting role nostalgia plays in my thought process.  They think playing Destiny's Child and N'SYNC at the same decibel level as a jet fighter is legitimately entertaining in it's own right.  The comfort here is in recalling a more childish, less responsible period.  I get it: you guys like shitty pop music, but simply alluding to something doesn't make it funny, and remembering your childhood won't make your current responsibilities disappear, you fucking babies.



New Jersey Kill Count 
Bunny: 1
Chipmunk: 2
Dog: 1
Mouse: 1
Opossum: 1
Skunk: 1
Small Bird: 5
Squirrel: 2
Turtle: 1
Unknown: 7

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Point is that Clamenza is a Fat Fuck

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Mr. and Mrs. Wernak give me an apple from their tree in the backyard.  I've never had one better, but it could have just been that I was hungry.  It lacked pointy bits and I can totally conceive of someone eating the entire thing.

Going to Newark yesterday I had to cross a narrow, two lane dam shooting loud torrents of water down some fifty feet.  It was terrifying and beautiful.  Today I had to cross a mile long two lane bridge into Philadelphia and there was no beauty about it.  The slums here are different than those in Baltimore.  It's possible they're just less pervasive or squalid.  Philly is overrun with homeless crust punks with dogs, though, so I guess they have that going for them.

I don't have a place to stay and begin my quest to find one.  I ask around and go to hip places.  By sheer dumb luck I run into Philip Lahaed.  He's dressed in a cycling outfit, as am I along with my geared up bike.  We start talking and he tells me he's taking a tour down to Florida and then over to New Orleans.  He's excited to be able to put me up for a few nights.  He's a weed dealer bike courier and I'm amazed at my luck.  He's an organizer for the Philly naked rides and doesn't hesitate to change in front of me.  I wish it was cool to get naked around other people.  I think I just want to show people my dick.  Philip complains about his current situation:  he's boning this girl but it's not really substantive or emotionally engaging.  I argue eating anything is better than going hungry.  Unbeknownst to me she is my waitress the next day.  She's filet mignon and apparently not the only course.

On my second night Philip dresses in extremely short khakis, black leggings, and a neon orange jacket.  We ride our bikes around much of Philly's empty streets making deliveries.  He went to the dentist that morning and needs to have some extensive work done, which means spending a lot of money.  He's going with two others on his tour and is nearly broke.  He calculates that he'll be able to spend about six dollars a day.  I'm averaging twenty between major cities and thirty to forty a day in them.  His trip is going to be radically different than mine.  Philip seems very smart and plans to get his M.D. and Ph.D. but currently attends a community college.  I wonder about who is smarter.  I can't tell if I'm thinking too much into it or he knows something I don't.

Intelligence

Aristotle said that there were three kinds of motivations: for wealth, for gratification, and for wisdom.  Wealth is simply another form begging of gratification.  Gratification is fleeting, temporary, and probably not virtuous.  Seeking wisdom is the best for some reason, but I always figured it was Aristotle being self-congratulatory on account of his seeking wisdom.  I think that might be the case, but he could have a legitimate point.

Without getting into whether intrinsic value can exist to begin with, I find myself judging more complex systems as more valuable.  That is, regenerative or reproductive processes become more valuable as they stack upon one another, if only based on their statistical rarity.  Psychologic processes are based on biology, based on chemistry, based on physics in that if any simpler system stops functioning so too do the complex systems based on it.  Sapience is more valuable than solely life, but life more than chemistry.

It could be egocentric, but I think intelligence different than any other adaptation, such as sight.  Intelligence is self replicating and self seeking, whereas sight can become more precise or expansive but not self replicating, unless you could have some sort of weird sight that seeks to see.  Frank Yang argues that consciousness could be something that existed before the universe as a way for it to comprehend itself.  I don't agree, but it's a neat way of thinking.

If a machine was made with the sole purpose of becoming more intelligent it's conceivable that if its physical form remained intact, and given the necessary resources, it would be able to increase its knowledge indefinitely.  It would never reach any one underlying truth of the universe because of infinite regress, but it could follow the same pattern of creating a new system at a certain level of complexity in the system prior.  The concept is easy to grasp, but the content of this new formation is impossible to determine.

As humans dependent on biologic forms, it seems unlikely that we'll ever attain this hyper intelligent state.  If we are, however, able to create a machine that could exponentially increase its intelligence it would lead eventually to a level of replicative complexity currently unimaginable.  Possibly anthropocentric, it's disappointing the thought of humans reaching their pinnacle in artificial forms, but the intelligence inherit in us finds the whole of itself more important than that of its biologic container.  As a cell dies for the body, so too can the biologic for intelligence.

I have a discussion with a graduate of Harvard and MIT about systems and their applicability to most things.  He's writing a book about the nature of systems both biologic and physical and how they can be used to solve practical problems.  I'm able to talk to him and understand his cognitive process.  I feel from him no condescension nor pretension as we discuss cerebral, subversive media and how a sense of fear in safe situations allows for a change of perception.  The difference between us is the same as between Philip and I: we keep up knowledgable conversation in spite of our different academic records and backgrounds.  Philip isn't less intelligent than me and I don't feel significantly less intelligent than this MIT guy.  We are able to retain a normal, intelligent conversation without any patronization nor large gap in understanding.  I begin to think that an academic background does not determine intelligence, only the raw amount of information one has.  Our separation in academia originates more from our initial motivation and foresight rather than pure cognitive capabilities.

In his own way, Philip is more knowledgeable about himself and what he's doing than some of these uptight, overachieving pricks getting straight As at John Hopkins.  They've worked for a grade, unquestioning of its significance since kindergarden.  Philip goes to community college because of poor performance before, but seems to know exactly what he wants and why.  Work ethic be damned, he's more knowledgable at least about his motivations than some of these to be lawyer shitheels.


Machines may obtain a greater factual intelligence, but wisdom seems to come from understanding one's motivations for doing what you are.  And have you ever seen The Terminator?  Robots are goddamn terrifying.


Pennsylvania Kill Count 
Cat: 1
Dog: 1
Mole: 1
Opossum: 1
Turtle: 1
Unknown: 3