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August 31, 2003

Why climbers are bad for the environment and bad for our country.

"Time Magazine and all of its subsidiaries are committed to protecting our environment by exposing those that would ruin it for us as and future generations. It is to this end that we are exposing those dirty, hippie climbers who may try and pass themselves off as nature lovers, but as you will see, are anything but. The issue at hand is none other than protecting our nations few and dwindling national parks. Parks like Yosemite are seeing firsthand the destructive impact climbers have with their trampling and trash. I, personally, was so astounded I had to drive to Yosemite in my Ford Excursion, which only gets 15mpg and spews copious amounts of toxic chemicals into the air, thanks to relaxed environmental restrictions on SUVs, to see the carnage for myself. To educate you, the unsuspecting American, we at Time Magazine have written this article on which we will publish on real paper, where it can not be denied. This issue is so important to all of us that Time magazine has used an entire forest of paper, just so you can read this article and see for yourself how important this is. It is our hope that you too will come to fear and hate these climbers, who do not have jobs or bathe and do nothing to contribute to our great economy. Let us all work together for a climber-free America."
-Lisa Beyer, Senior Editor, Time Magazine

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Doubt on my mind.

Got back from LA last night and had to work today. I'll be working tomorrow and the next day as well. For some reason work hasn't been so bad. I think its because I know I'm moving away from it. It no longer looms over me as this inescapable counter weight on my scale of ideals. At the same time, the more I see myself actually making decisions which distance myself from 'work', the more anxious I become. What will become of me? I keep giving myself reasons why my slow exodus makes sense even if my new 'plans', if they can be called that, do not work out.

I reason that my current job has no future for me anyway. It does nothing to further the talents I do have and may even make me more complacent in a job with so few responsibilities. I second guess my reasons though, wondering how many are justifications. Some would say the computer work I've been offered is a step in the right direction, but it still seems meaningless. Partly because, while they've shown interest in the work I'm doing FOR THEM, they never follow through with their parts, leaving my work incomplete.
I also reason that even if my lose plans for a new me fall through, the lack of my current employer to fall back on will force me into something different anyway. Sometimes something different is better than nothing at all because even if we move in the wrong direction at least we KNOW that it is wrong, taking us closer to the right direction. Knowing where NOT to look can be just as important as knowing where to look. But this too may just be a justification.
Maybe I have an overly romanticized view of what I hope my future will become. This is probably how would-be-actors work as waiters for so many years. The vision of themselves, after they've MADE IT, gives them so much elation, they can't help but follow. The realities that await most of these poor souls looks less like a romantic dream and more like an unfulfilling turgid reality after having sold their soul to get there. To their defense, can you blame them for following a dream as unrealistic as it is? Maybe.

The thing is, I don't really know where I'm going in the first place, much to my dismay. I only have a vague sense of direction that feels right. But alas, I am still being to vague. I promise to be more specific and less obtuse in the future. I hope you'll forgive me.

If all else fails, at least the journey will have been interesting.

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August 29, 2003

New Address

Things always go bad when you leave. In my case, gir died at the same time ninth.org went down. To top it off, sarahpeutics.com expired (though I think I've renewed without lapse). I've decided not to rely on ninth.org and instead use a new domain, wayfargone.com. I've also registered brainflossing.com. Needless to say, you should now go to http://www.wayfargone.com/brainfloss/ if you want my blog. http://adam.ninth.org is still completely down, so some old links might break. I hope this is temporary. You can email me at either adam@wayfargone.com or adam@brainflossing.com.

I'm home from LA and Rigecrest after 7 days away and I've got lots to say, but I need to shave, shower and sleep. Hopefully I can give an update after work tomorrow.

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August 24, 2003

"Plans are for fools!"

"Did we say blow it up?" So, Sarah and I picked up Kris and were driving down Rosecrans towards the wedding when my truck died. Its parked in a parking lot right next to the REI I work at for a short stint. Some of you may be saying, "another truck problem?" But, as I look back, my truck has never died before, not once. I've gotten it stuck and personally been responsible for bad things happening to it, but its never just died. We think its the alternator, but won't know until we can check it out tomorrow. We made it to the wedding despite our troubles after Kris convinced her sorta boyfriend to come pick us up and drive us to the wedding where we met Matt who had Kris's truck. It was a beautiful wedding with mostly very rich people driving rich cars with wives that obviously expected their husbands to do whatever rich husbands do. After the wedding, Kris drove us to Rich's house where we borrowed his car and adjourned back to Matt's place. Tomorrow morn we'll drive Rich's car to where my car is and check it out. Sarah was going to go to Santa Barbara in the morn, but plan obviously has to be revised.

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August 23, 2003

LA me down...

I'm in LA now. I won't be back to Mammoth until Friday night. I got to see my nephew today. He's much bigger than the last time I'd seen him. Tomorrow I'm going to Doug K's wedding (the once CFO of Cnation). Than Sarah is going up to Santa Barbara to meet her sister. I'll stay in LA for another day or so chatting with Kasei and others and meet her up there Tuesday or Wednesday. Sarah and I will then be heading for Ridgecrest on Wednesday night where Sarah has to work on Thursday and Friday. I'll stay holed up in the hotel where we'll have Internet access so I can work on the book proposals. I'll definitely be updating while I'm here though. No sleep for the weary.

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August 22, 2003

Willy Wonka Update

Thanks to Gamera for this one. In our last scheduled debate on who should play Willy Wonka in the upcoming remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Johnny Depp seemed to have the lead. Well it appears our immense brain power and good intentions have indeed influenced the masses, once again. Read more.

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August 21, 2003


Wow, its raining harder than I've ever seen it rain here. Came quite suddenly too.


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Talk with the boss.

So I mentioned that I'd come up with a plan, but hadn't figured out how it would fit in with work. I was also quite worried that my request for reduced involvement would be met by animosity from my co-managers and/or my boss. It was funny, when I told Sarah I was worried what Won and Steve would think of me, she said, "Why do you care?" She didn't mean it like I should be mean to them, just that, it was my life and I had to do what I had to do. But, as part of my problem of distancing myself from my work, its hard NOT to care. One reason I care(d)... as is expected, I have a desire to tiptoe into my new life with the option of turning around whenever I want. That is probably too much to hope for and will fail more likely than if I fully commit. I decided to talk to Won about it ahead of time to make sure he was ok with it anyway. He completely understood. Next step was to talk to my boss, which I did today. It was a difficult topic to introduce, I just didn't know where to begin. In the end, if he was unhappy, he hid it well. It seemed like he completely understood and was willing to be as flexible as needed to keep me in whatever capacity I wanted. This made me feel better about the situation, but also showed me that they think I am a valuable member of the team.

I told him I wanted to reduce my involvement to 2-3 days per week, plus the computer stuff. I also mentioned that I was hoping to meet with Doug R. next month and the meeting might have an impact on my involvement during the winter. He seemed ok with everything. He seemed most concerned that I stay involved with the computer stuff, which is great with me as I'd rather do that stuff than be in the store any day.

Well, it looks like I'm on my way. By committing to these things before having a really detailed formalized plan, I am forcing myself into action. I will not be satisfied wasting my life away and not going for what seems best. We'll see if I can pull it off. Only time will tell.

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August 20, 2003

The Decision.

This entry is being posted out of order, sorry. It was meant to be posted before "The Plan". Sorry.

Last night I read an article in Rock & Ice Magazine ("The only rule that counts", April 15, 03 #124) by John Long that had a profound affect on me. It was about a climbing friend he'd had during his heydays in Yosemite Valley. One day this friend announced that he had to stop playing around and get on with his life. That day he left Yosemite, never to return. Almost 25 years later, Long received a letter from Jeff. The letter told a little about the life he was living as a successful business man with places in Manhattan and Singapore. He'd just redone the bathroom in his NY place for $67,000, to give you any idea of how much money he had. To his credit, he acknowledged how vulgar that sounded. Throughout the letter you couldn't get past how much remorse he expressed for dropping out of the lifestyle he'd had with John, while at the same time justifying the necessity of his current lifestyle. He'd also given up the woman he apparently loved, because it didn't seem possible given his busy work schedule.

Long did not immediately reply after getting the letter. While he thought about the letter he had to write frequently, they were so many worlds apart, it just wasn't a priority, nor would it be easy. Many months later, after having forgotten about the letter completely, he accidentally came upon the letter again and quickly realized that Jeff's office was in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. A quick investigation on the net revealed what he had feared. Jeff had been one of the victims. He'd written the letter just days before the tragedy.

In THIS entry, I vaguely started thinking about how to put my ideals into action. "Its easy to frame answers to questions in terms of ideologies instead of action. ... It is all well and good to define ones ideologies. But once that is done, much sooner than never, one must turn them into action. " In the days since I wrote that passage I began to realize the implications of that decision. Its time to start formulating a plan and begin following through with that plan with immediate action.

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August 18, 2003

Jesus is Out. Anthony Robins is In...

I don't post many links, but this one is just too good.

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The Plan

Its one thing to think and dream, quite another to put those dreams into action. The danger becomes more real, testing ones commitment to those dreams. It is also quite scary writing those things down in a public forum. By doing so, you make them more real and thus commit yourself further. I think I'm ready.
To answer a question I'd posed HERE (Defcon 11: The Struggle), I envision a life in which my career (using the term liberally), and my idealistic life are one in the same. Specifically, after much soul searching I've found that two things give me the most pleasure. Writing, and being outdoors. Being outdoors is too simplistic a definition. Being at home in the outdoors is more to the point. I wrote the following at Defcon and was not going to post it, but decided to after finding an explanation for myself.
"Is it selfish to even desire being in a place where you need NOT have responsibility. But only flexibility to exercise power over ones time and priorities."
Why would I dream this a possibility? I'm currently reading "A night on the ground, a day in the open." by Doug Robinson. One of the topics covered is that of the climbing vagabond. I realize that when I talk about having no responsibility, What I really desire is that lifestyle. One in which you have enough time to do things that are less goal oriented. Climb unnamed peaks! Read and write for a day in the wilderness. It sounds unrealistically romantic I know, but by the nature of my crusade I've doomed myself to thinking such things ARE possible.

To this end, I am back to the thought of becoming a guide. But now I've added the unrealistic, lofty goal of being a writer. This may seem sudden to some of you, but its really not to me. I'm not going to go in to the whole writer thing now, but I promise to at a later time.

Here's the plan, which can change and evolve as I go.
1. I'm working hard on the Sarahpeutics book proposal.
2. I've begun work on another book proposal with Obigabu which I'll explain sometime later. 3. I am going to try and contact Doug Robinson through Bruce and offer my time for free as an apprenticeship, hopefully next summer in the Palasades. (After Denali).
4. Climb Denali
5. In September, I am going to take a solo backpacking trip over the Sierra's from the East side, clear to the west. (I just gotta figure out a ride home :) With NO time constraints. I'll take as long as I need to do it right. I'm assuming it will take less than a week.

Thats the plan as it stands. It will obviously have an affect on my work at Kittredge. I am still working on computer stuff for them and continuing that throughout this year. How this will affect how much time I spend in the store, I still haven't figured out, though I have no doubt it will.

Thats the current plan in a nutshell. I've left out the minutia because I've already rambled.

UPDATE: Bruce saw Doug in the Rite-Aid parking lot. Doug mentioned he'd be in the Palisades for 2 weeks in September. Bruce told Doug I wanted to talk to him, but didn't mention why. So, I plan on finding Doug in the Palisades in September and bringing my case to him. This meeting may or may not determine my plans for the rest of the year.

Posted by wonko at 02:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Climb: Hoodwink

Yesterday. Bruce and I went to Tuolumne to climb Hoodwink (5 pitches, 10a) on the Harlequin dome. Long story short, it was crazy, fricken hard and scary. I got the scariest pitch, one in which you have to escape an 8' roof by getting good hand holds and then letting your feet cut lose, so you're just dangling over the abyss. I attempted it 4 times on lead (fell each time). Then twice more while following (after Bruce got it), before being 'helped' up. It was quite scary and insane. I've never done anything quite like that while trad climbing.

Before the climb, as I sorta knew what I was getting into, and during the climb, I was thinking a lot of fear and climbing. Fear is such a crazy emotion that we often have so little control over. It is REALLY hard to control ones fear. There are many techniques and it seems each technique works sometimes and not others. Much like the techniques for dealing with pain. Fear can be paralyzing, but you can't let it, especially not on a big climb. Gotta keep moving. Keep fear at bay. I also got to thinking about how the rock seems to talk to me. Tells me where to go. If I listen, I climb more effectively and efficiently. Then I remembered I wrote a blog entry a long time ago on that very topic. Still haven't posted it, but I will... promise.

Posted by wonko at 02:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2003


I had two memorable dreams last night. Both frustrating. No idea what they mean.

Dream 1: My parents were vacationing in Santa Monica. At a hotel somewhere between Montana and Wilshire. I remember driving up to the hotel with them. I don't remember if I was driving when we came up to the hotel, but for some reason, my mom parked my truck. I walked upstairs while they parked it so I didn't know where they put it. My Dad parked his car somewhere. We were up a couple floors in their hotel room when the sky turned red. I'm not sure how I found out, but somehow a volcano was erupting. At first it didn't seem too urgent, but over the course of the hour it kept getting more urgent. We had to get out of there. Suddenly it became apparent that it was going to fully erupt at any minute and that we HAD to get out of there. NOW. So I started packing up my things, that which I could hold in my hands. This whole time I was telling my mom & dad that they had to leave now. They had to leave everything they brought and only take what was important, leave everything else. Only what they could carry. They didn't seem to be taking me as seriously. So I started yelling at them. "You have to leave now, grab what you can carry and lets go." They still weren't moving fast enough, so I grabbed what I could and left, thinking they were gonna be behind me. I got in the elevator and immediately realized I didn't know where my truck was parked. It was a small hotel so it didn't have many parking garage levels under the hotel. I picked the middle one of 2 or 3 and went down. By the time I got down there people were already leaving. I started walking up the main isle, but couldn't find my truck. Must be on another level. By the time I realized my truck wasn't there, most of the cars on that level had already left and I was getting frantic. So I started running. then I woke up.

Dream 2: I was in some big city, maybe Vegas, with a big group of people. Probably for some convention. We were all staying in this REALLY old hotel. Built in the 20s or something. I remember getting there, getting a room, with my brother, putting most of my stuff down, and going to a nearby room where more people were congregating. I'm sure I was drinking because I think I slept in that room that night. I then left and must have gone to some other floor. I realized I wanted to clean up, but realized my toiletry bag was in my room (somewhere). I was in the lobby at the time. I got in one of the 4 elevators, but it only had one button, it went from the main lobby to the parking garage. The main lobby was up a couple floors. So I asked the guy in the lobby. I got in another elevator and it had all these crazy button, I knew I was on the 12th floor, but there was no button that just said 12. I hit some other button and suddenly went on this LONG elevator ride that didn't just go down, but sideways on a track past the pool where it kept hitting people in the head. It was ridiculous. It then went through some other rooms and up and down other floors and finally to level 13 (which was as close as I could get). So I started searching for stairs and finally found them. I found the level where my room was, but couldn't remember which room. I had a key, but it had a long number on it which didn't correlate to the room numbers. I was getting so frustrated. I'd been just trying to get back to my room and it was taking hours!! Why did they make such asinine elevator systems in the 30s (was my thought)? I found the other room which had some of my stuff, but couldn't find my room. I woke up around this point. Frustrated.

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August 14, 2003

Writing vs. Typing

I type pretty fast. Fast enough that I don't really have time to think in between words. This got me to thinking about the practical differences between writing and typing. I write fast too, but even when I write as fast as I can, its about 1/10 the speed of my typing. Clearly this must affect WHAT you put down. In writing, there is time to reflect even while writing without pause. For most, that is as fast as they've ever put thought to paper. Since I'm used to typing, I write anxiously trying to get thoughts down fast enough not to lose the next one. I pause when I type, but not when I write. At first I thought writing would be better because it allowed you more time to reflect, but now I think it depends on the person. For me, I'm so comfortable typing, its almost like speaking. Its more like having a tape recorder record my thoughts rather than writing. The downside is that it can be more rambly, less coherent at times, but at least it more closely resembles my thoughts.

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August 13, 2003

The New Diamond Age

Enough people are commenting on this article just out in wired. The New Diamond Age reveals some quite startling information. Namely, at least two companies in the US are beginning to manufacture diamonds at a fraction of the cost to mine them. How cheap? Possibly as cheap as $5 per carat. The implications are astounding. For thousands of years people have been trying to turn led to gold. Gold is cheap compared to diamonds. One of the revelations, suspected by man, known by some, revealed in this article is that De Beers is really an international cartel that controls the diamond market. De Beers has vast stores of Diamonds, which as it turns out are more plentiful than one would think. They strictly control the release of these diamonds to maintain the illusion of scarcity. As you can imagine, they are beside themselves about these latest developments.

The other major impact this news has is on the Chipmaking industry. Diomond chips have been the dream of chipmakers since moores law. The problem with silicon is that after a certain temp, it just melts. In comes diamonds. The problem has always been that diamonds are unreliable in their quality and do not conduct electricity to begin with. Both of these problems have been solved and indeed chipmakers oversees are working on this very concept. What about Intel? Clueless. If the US lost the chipmaking war, it would certainly have a huge impact on our economy.

The two companies have two different processes which produce different types of diamonds. One of them. Gemesis can create rare yellow diamonds, which CAN be distinguished from real diamonds through expensive analysis. The other, Apollo Diamond uses a process called chemical vapor deposition. Their diamonds are also easily distinguishable from real diamonds. But only because their diamonds are perfect. Absolutely perfect, whereas real diamonds never are.

De Beers is hoping people won't want these 'man-made' diamonds over the expensive 'real' diamonds because of the mystique that real diamonds have. Of course, much of that mystique is created by the rarity of them, which, as it turns out, isn't the case anyway.

Would you buy, want, or give a perfect 3 carat man made diamond that you paid 90% less for?

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August 12, 2003

The upward spiral.

One of the questions I've been asking myself is whether all of this thought. All of this writing is really getting me anywhere. Am I really evolving and if so, to what end? I am certainly putting a tremendous amount of energy into this evolution, but at times it seems I am merely going in circles, being confronted by the same demons in different form months or years later. Then I read the following from Booke of Days that reframed my quest.
The image of a tight spiral seems to explain it well. We ARE confronted with the same issues and it is a long way around before we get to the same spot, only to have gained a tiny bit of altitude. But, most importantly, we HAVE progressed, be it slightly. We ARE further for it. Does this mean that one can attempt, by constant questioning and resolution to traverse the circles faster?

The next paragraph is interesting too, though a little more book specific. I'm including it anyway, with no explanation.

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Booke of Days: An early blog.

I just finished reading Stephen J. Rivelle's, Booke of Days. Its out of print, but easy to find HERE at Amazon. The intro contends it is a true story. I have my doubts, but whether it is or not, it is still one of the most amazing books I've read. The author's story of how the book came about is equally interesting. In 1990 while working for National Geographic Magazine, he was assigned to do a piece on French monasteries. While there he decided to try and learn about his heritage. Long story short, he found himself in a small town in France called Lunnel where a town hall clerk, the mayor, the police commissaire, and the town priest, after much disbelief, told him that his distant relative was the Duke of Lunnel and had written a journal during his voyages on the first crusade. It had been kept in a sealed wooden box underneath the church in Lunnel for over 900 years and was still mostly intact. Stephen spent the next 5 years translating it (as it was written in an older form of French known as Provencal).

The journal itself is astounding. While it contains a tremendous amount of history in the people, places and events it covers, it is more about one mans search for faith, redemption and himself. It journal is very well written, with sometimes gruesome accounts of battle and their living conditions. It covers a wide range of topics such as love, sex, devotion, servitude, faith, religion, idealism, racism, sexism, and the list goes on. Perhaps most astounding is the realization that this man 900 years ago was struggling with the same things we do today. Some things don't change.

The end is both surprising and a bit sobering. I'm still dissecting what I took away from the book. One page in particular made me think. I'll be commenting on that in a subsequent entry though. I couldn't help but view it as an early blog of course as I am so rapt in mine. He seemed to share the same devotion to writing his thoughts down as I do. For him it was therapeutic I'm sure, but also provided respite from the horrors around him.

If anything I've said sounds in any way interesting, don't walk, run to your computer and buy this book. As much as I could hype this book, I'm sure I couldn't give it half the praise it deserves.

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August 11, 2003

Defcon 11: Our Movement.

The last of my Defcon writings.
I still get nostalgic about that feeling we all had in the mid to late 90s that we were all on to something. Watching the computer, the network morph. The network IS the computer meant something deep to us. Big things to little things. Watching my OS improve was exciting enough to warrant taking hours out of my day fighting with realplayer so I could faintly see the alter where an all important keynote sermon was being presented. I listened intently and argued the fine points with my colleagues once we'd all caught up on the news. I still crave the latest gadgets, but I have a harder time justifying them. They are no longer my life. I haven't touched my PDA in so long, the batter is shot! To change so much. Its not traditional. Did I leave, or did it change away from me. Like all things, its a combination.

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Giving up on idealism.

Winston Churchill once said, "If you're 20 and conservative, you have no heart. If you're 40 and liberal, you have no head." I was reminded of this quote as I pondered why so many more young people are idealistic than old people. I know that fact is obvious, but the whys aren't as clear. It seems as though peoples idealism fades, or is forgotten as they get older. I always picture it as a pretty quick transition, but it may not be. Certainly the arrival of kids plays a HUGE role in it. But why?

As I look at the consequences of my aforementioned crusade it becomes obvious to me. It is a lot more difficult to get ahead in this world without compromising idealism. I mean, you have to work. You have to go to work and get your work done. Constantly being plagued by nagging doubts of the fruitfulness of ones daily activities is NOT the way to get ahead. Plus, the more responsibilities you get, the harder it is to carry ones idealism around. You have a car payment, house payment, student loan payment. Gotta take care of the things you have. I can see how this path I'm on makes caring for all of those material things becomes more and more difficult.

So the question remains, what happens if you DON'T give it up, but continue to bolster ones idealism even as one gets older? I don't see a clear answer to this question, but I do see a few examples. Certainly there are examples of hippies I mentioned at the end of this entry who are deadbeats who don't contribute anything, but to their credit, managed to hold on to their ideals. Then there are those who managed to have idealistic jobs, like writing, or music. Finally, there are the wanderers. But more on them later.

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Adult Swim: As Movement

Its Sunday night, and you know what that means. Its occurred to me on more than one occasion, for over a year now that Adult Swim is itself a movement. Its a short movement that is just now, or has just reached is peak and is now in decline. What made it a movement? It was SOO completely unique and different. At the same time, it was only watched and understood by a small handful of people. They couldn't even get advertisers. But they've grown up now and are watched by enough people that large advertisers take it seriously. I think their peak was the intro of the B&W cards, described before. Now, Adult Swim has hit the mainstream. I even see Adult Swim versions of real commercials on the major networks now. More importantly, when Adult Swim first came out, all the shows were new. Now, most are re-runs. Those in the movement used to watch it EVERY Sunday religiously. Now that most are re-run shows, it's not as critical. Those of us that still tune in on Sunday night (and you know who you are) are either those that are just joining the movement in decline, or those who were there in the beginning who are clinging to what it once was. I for one try and still watch each Sunday as I hang on to the movement for as long as I can. Much like those hippies in their 50s who still think its the 60s. Sounds pathetic when I put it that way. :)

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August 10, 2003

Notes from the floor.

I was working at Outdoor Image today. One of the stores owned by the company I worked for. It was terribly boring, so I couldn't help but write (and write). Here are my notes.
Its easy to frame answers to questions in terms of ideologies instead of action.
Faith and ideologies are not the same. You can not move mountains with ideologies.
It is all well and good to define ones ideologies. But once that is done, much sooner than never, one must turn them into action.

There is a wide gap between wandering and traveling, just as there is an equally wide chasm between the wanderer and the traveler. One has a destination and a time frame. The biggest difference is motive. The other, is the presence of a watch.
Some wanderers never stop, like John Muir. Others need periods of doubt doing odd jobs like construction and cleaning dishes to reaffirm their faith.

The passion to write should not be ignored like any other passion. To do so is to shirk off an obvious calling from the divine.

Sometimes I get an urgent, almost frantic fear that unless I write my thoughts down, they will be lost forever. That obsession has led me to write that very thought down.

Being loud/boisterous and being confident are often the same. It takes confidence form most of us to speak up. There is a line of annoyance one must be careful not to cross. Ones intention mostly determines the passage of that line.

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The Chopper Bunch

This was an old Blog Entry that never got posted. Thoughts I'd just post it now.

The other day I had a flashback of a cartoon I liked when I was a kid. Thanks to the wonder of the internet I was able to find something on them. I guess Cartoon Network plays the old shows now and then and even has a flash cartoon of it. Sweet!

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August 09, 2003

Defcon 11: The Struggle

Nearing the end of my rantings from Defcon. This was from the night I got back.

As I view the struggle from above I wonder how the struggle itself has mutated over the years. The angst over the struggle itself is all concerned with the future and what it holds. A question without an answer is not nearly as intimidating if it did not affect ones future. Once decisions are tied to directions leading towards ends, they become more urgent. Has the struggle changed? During my 'work' time, the struggle was about where 'the work' would go? Afterwards it was the decision on what to do or not to. I suppose its still similar. But the struggle, the answers, were greatly influenced by the answer to a question I did not know. Who was I? It seemed obvious that upon finding that answer, the rest would become clear. I was obviously mistaken. It is not completely clear. I've resolved to defining missions. What is different about THIS mission is that I can not see very far into the future as to its outcome. Is it safe to go on this crusade. What are the consequences if I'm wrong? What do I fear? I know the answer to that. I fear finding myself too idealistic, unable to function in a society that requires laying ones ideals aside frequently in order to get along, much less progress in it. At that point, being forced back into the world might be impossible. I feel as if I've reached, or are close to the tipping point. Should I decide to set aside my ideals, I might be able to convince myself I'm doing the 'right thing'. If I continue on this crusade, I'm probably close to passing the point of no return. Is that true? I've got work to do, can I beat the system by having both worlds. Letting the system feed my idealism. Work on my terms. It seems there are 4 possible paths. 1. Ditch the crusade and try and get along like every else. 2. Try and compromise, having two personas, a work one and an idealistic one. 3. Try and find a job that completely embodies my crusade. 4. Continue with the crusade as I have been and see how far I can possibly take it, regardless of the consequences.

Number 2 seems the most prudent, but would probably be the most difficult. Its hard to serve two masters. 3 is definitely an option, but not an answer. 4 is to do nothing but continue as I have and see where it goes. Certainly this coincides with point 4 of my crusades credo. Trusting things will work out and not worrying. However, you can see the circular nature of using that argument for continuing. If I'm wrong, credo 4 will prevent me from ever seeing it... maybe until its too late. The problem with credo 4 is that it requires blind faith. Once you question it, its negated. Is religion the same way? Does it not work if you doubt it?

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August 08, 2003

Defcon 11: Where do we go from here?

I'm in a strange position I can honestly say I've never been in before. Man's search is to find oneself. Much like Anigo Mantoya after killing the six figure man, now that my mission is over, I wonder what to do with myself now! I like who I am. I feel I know myself well, but now I don't know what to do about it. Some people figure out what professional career THEY ARE. Then, once they're doing that thing, they feel they are who they are. Whether the profession they ended up in was as a result of, or in response to who they really are is irrelevant. What happens when you figure out who you are without it being related to or advantageous for a specific desirous career which allows you to maintain your idealistic dignity? I suppose you find a profession which one's self IS made for. But what if that profession might not make much money, or ANY money! Take writers. Writing is a profession in which the employee (though self employed) may never get paid. Of course writing is OFTEN ones second job. But what if it could be their only job earnings or not! Just what if. And why do I have so many questions about everything anyway? Why is it that every time I find what I think is the answer, then get there, I once again get plagued with more questions?

Because it STILL wasn't weird enough for me.

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August 07, 2003

Focus on Focus

So I have a problem with focus. I've admitted that for a long time. My problem being I have a hard time focusing on more than one thing at a time. I've been thinking about this problem and whether or not I can harness it as opposed to fighting and trying to fix it. Its like, when I had to build the Sarahpeutics site, I just locked myself in my apt and did it over a couple weeks, then it was done. I could have spead it out more and had more balance of my time, working some days, climbing others. But it was just easier to focus full-time on the task at hand and get it done. So, here I am trying to get various projects done, while getting my climbing in at the same time and I'm having a difficult time of it. I get in this loop where I have a hard time getting motivated to get on these projects, but then when I'm given a chance to go climb (or some other activity), I don't feel motivated to do that either out of guilt for not having gotten enough work done. That is a good deal of my problem with focus. So the question is, instead of fighting or trying to magically fix this problem I have, maybe I should just accept it and harness it. Going from one extreme focus to another over short periods of time. Does that make any sense, or is that just insane?

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Defcon 11: Freedom

More from Defcon... A few discontiguous topics.
Freedom is a funny thing. We all intrinsically want it, but like a kid in the cookie jar, once we get it we are so excited about it we immediately try and push it beyond its limits. Maybe if we were left to our devices long enough, we'd get tired of abusing our privileges and do things better. But I don't think so.

People are trying to be something. Sometimes they pull it off, sometimes they don't. Its hard to understand why. You'll see one guy with long sideburns, was he pulling it off? What about the guy with purple hair? How come one can look part of his persona while the other looks like a false ID.

And it STILL wasn't weird enough for me. I've been thinking about that phrase a lot. Its the last line from Where the Buffalo Roam. I've this paradox where, just like everyone else, I enjoy and am comfortable with routine... knowing what will happen next, and by extension I have anxiety about change. What is anxiety about change? If you think about it, it is the fear that the outcome of whatever change, might be worse than what you currently have. But on the other side, I fear stagnation and desire to be taken out of my comfort zone constantly. To be given the challenge, rise to the challenge, and reap the rewards. The only part about change that I really fear, is having to test my theory on trusting things will work out. That influences your decision a great deal. What is prudent, and what your heart/mind/desire tells you to do are sometimes different. Which do you follow?

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August 06, 2003

Memories of Ithaca.

Yesterday, low and behold, a voice (email in this case) from what seams like the distant past. An old friend and coworker I haven't spoken to in years. Regaining contact with someone from the past always conjures up images of that particular point in time. In this case, it reminded me a of a book of poems (a specific poem in that book actually), that said person gave as a Christmas gift many years ago. The poem is Ithaca by Constantine P. Cavafy (1911). Thanks for the link DS. It still gives me goose bumps when I read it.

"Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years; ...

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

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Quote: Douglas Adams

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

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Starbucks got tagged

Just read THIS article in the LA times (free registration required). 17 of San Francisco's local Starbucks were vandalized early Tuesday morning. The beauty is in how they were vandalized. "windows clouded with glue, "For Lease" signs pasted on their facades and some of their locks jammed". The pranksters also posted a notice on faux Starbucks letterhead regretfully announcing the closure of "thousands of retail locations worldwide." As if that wasn't funny enough, they posted a message from the Starbucks Corporation which stated that Starbuck's lofty goals "to promote a sustainable social, ecological, and economic model for the production and trade of coffee" had failed. Further stating "The global economy requires a relentless substitution of quantity over quality and shareholder value over human values." It was signed with the name of Starbuck's actual senior vice president of corporate social responsibility. Another quote from the article. "A main complaint is Starbucks' tactic of offering above-market rents to storefront owners, driving up other commercial rents and often forcing locally owned stores out, said Marsha Garland, executive director of the North Beach chamber. "

Just genius! It so succinctly states what I've come to realize (previous blog). Trying to start, build and grow a business in the current business environment is almost impossible if you also hold to a high set of ideals in how you treat your employees, customers and shareholders. Starbucks was smart enough to figure out enough people wanted to see that kind of company, they had merely to state they WERE that kind of company to get support. Of course, like Nike (previous blog), they never were. It was all a PR game.

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August 05, 2003

Defcon 11: Movements

This will be my first entry derived from this long document Steve and I wrote while at Defcon. There will be more after this. I corrected spelling and some grammar, but didn't change it much at all.
Strange vibes from the closed carpeted room. It seems as though all movements are waves that eventually crest and slowly recede. You can't join a movement either, because by the time you decide to join a movement, it will have already slammed into shore and tracked its course back to sea. You need to have been a part of it before anyone knew it was a movement to begin with. In this way, it is the collection of intellects at the start that determines whether or not it becomes a movement, what type of movement it becomes and type of momentum the movement has. Measuring how much momentum it gains is NOT a measure of how many people contribute, or visa versa however you see it. At some point, some critical mass usually decreases the momentum, not increasing it as you would think.
Many stories about many types of people. Each with their own story. What brings them all here. How many are part of this movement, how many are left. How many are just trying to board the ship not knowing its only a mockery of the battleship it was. Could you spend your life just watching people? Isn't that what psychologists do? Is that their kick. Is it that they all really want to help people, or is it that some just like seeing the spectacle of the human condition.

Maybe the defcon wave just mirrors the internet wave. Hundreds of bodies littered on the side of the information superhighway. They didn't even know what hit them. Did we believe that we could change the world, or was that our motto when in reality we were all just trying to find the American dream of having lots of money and doing whatever we wanted. I'm inclined towards the former. We DID think we could change the world and some still do.

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August 04, 2003

Defcon: Predux

So I DID make it back alive, just as I'd hoped and expected. It was a great experience, had a fantastic time. Most of all I enjoyed spending time with my friends. I feel like I took a lot from this experience. I ended up writing a good deal. Now I have to distill that writing and post the cogent bits that don't make me sound like the raving lunatic that I apparently am. Obviously, this censoring myself breaks credo 5 of my crusade, merging the public and private self. Now that I mention it, I'm a little incensed you'd bring up such a small failure in the first place. It takes time for people to change. Rome wasn't built in a day. The sewage system alone must have taken years! Like Rome's waste removal system, I too will eventually achieve continuity of service.

I'll post more on my Defcon ruminations tomorrow.

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August 02, 2003

Defcon goes on.

people are speaking, some I know, some are paid. None of the talks are captivating, if not interesting. We just went to one on hacker couture which transcended the basic argument of anarchy vs. the law. Questions on our cultural priorities and how to change the system from within. After the talk I confronted him with my normal cynicism. I asked, what next? We can't change the system. He gave some canned response about changing the people around you, but I argued it was a more systemic cultural issue. He agreed and didn't have an answer. There are no easy answers, only questions which allude to answers on the tip of ones tongue. He got caught in another conversation before I could explain my belief that major cultural changes would occur given some sort of large occurrence, be it monetary collapse, or environmental disaster. Nothing else seems to work. The riots of 92 seemed to be a start, but they rationalized their way out of changes and its worse today than it was then. It continues on its path, towards destruction. It was the great Dr. Gonzo himself that stated that even with all thats happened we are actually less free politically than we were during the reign of Nixon. Its heartening to know other people are thinking of these things. Its too bad, those taking that position, appear to be raving lunatics to most steadfast Americans. It makes me wonder whether I too sound like a raving lunatic. Or whether I care about that in the first place. I'm not here to please the man anyway. Back to number 4, gotta trust that it will work out as I follow my path towards idealism. Maybe I'll run into him later.

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Defcon: Report from the field.

Here I am, ad Defcon, on their wireless network, in the lobby of the Alexis Park. Lizards everywhere!

Just learned how to install a clandestine packet sniffer in a UPS. More to come.

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August 01, 2003


Copyshop is a trippy short about a guy who works at a Copyshop and makes copies of himself. The strange part is that the director made the film by photocopying 18,000 digital frames and animating them with a 35mm camera. Strange days indeed.

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Defcon 11: Freaks, geeks, hackers, lights, Vegas, action.

I know I just got back, but its time to leave again. Its time for our annual Defcon reunion. Defcon is an Internet Security (read hacker) convention in Vegas. Unfortunately, a lot of the old CN gang can't go, but there'll still be a good group. Hackworth, Obigabu, Agenda, Kasei, etc... Defcon is a always a kick. A huge gathering of freaks and geeks. Anarchists all of them! Evildoers who seek to undermine our very way of life. Did I say evildoers! Me and my band of carefree bandits are merely observers to the mass confusion.

Unfortunately for you, the rule that man has lived by since the Mesozoic era, stands. Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Wish me luck as I continue my crusade.

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What would I do with all the money?

In a recent entry, [On Government: Mammoth Lakes vs. Santa Monica], Ice Slider asked what I would do with a ton of money. I started responding, but my response got so long I decided to make it an entry.

I just had a conversation regarding this with a friend of mine. I had the obscene sized soda-cup from a Shell station. On it, you could pull a tab, get a code, enter that code online (after registering) and wait anxiously by the phone, computer, mailbox, while you get 2 tons of new junk-mail, hoping one will give some indication that you've one the 2 billion dollar grand prize.. I think thats the largest prize giveaway ever. The QVC zombies must be having a field day asking their psychic friend whether they'll win. My friend asked, "What would one possibly do with 1B dollars." I immediately had an answer.

I'd take some quantity of the dirty loot, somewhere close to 10 million, and put it in lower risk, decent interest bearing mutual funds or super funds. I'd want to match the markets 10-12% return over the long term at least. I'd then live on the interest for the rest of my days. To account for inflation, I would always reinvest some of the interest. The rest I'd give away. Not to one person of course. I'd combine traveling with finding people and/or agencies who would use the money wisely and dole it out to them based on their need. Before starting on this venture, I'd get a good money manager and invest the rest so that it'd be earning interest while I work on figuring out who'd get the money.

This reminds me of a thought I had a couple weeks ago on how to beat the juggernaut once and for all. Its somewhat idealistic and requires the cooperation of multiple generations, which may be wishful thinking. Basically, the idea is to, first and foremost, pay off and never have any debt. A house is equity, so that doesn't count, but its important to not be paying ANY money in interest for anything (with the exception of a house). Then, begin putting money in decent mutual funds, always putting money in, NEVER taking money out. UNTIL! Until the fund makes enough money in interest to live off of. Being the first generation of this experiment, it would likely not be a lot of money. But I have a very liberal definition of 'enough to live off of'. It would be important not to live off ALL the interest, but reinvest some of it, so the ledger keeps getting greener, no matter what. The planning would have to be good because the idea is that once your offspring gets to a certain age, they too would get a certain percentage of the interest. Enough to live off of (very VERY meagerly). They would be taught the cost of the sin of debt is death. Meanwhile, money is ALWAYS put back. Enough that further siblings always have their share of the interest to look forward to.

"Where's this all going Adam? You're insane, you know this right?" The idea is that each generation will have options. The option to choose a profession they enjoy, regardless of the money. They can LIVE (remember its a liberal definition) without working. They could travel if they want, they could go get a real job and make more money if they want. They can become a writer or a painter that does not pay well. The REAL trick will be making sure no one messes it up by getting in debt. Debt throws it all off because the money you'll be getting monthly in interest will likely NOT be enough to live on if your fueling the machine with your monthly debt nut. I know, it still sounds crazy, but the reality of the 'system' is that once you reach a critical mass of $$, compound interest ensures you can continue sticking your middle finger at the credit card companies as hard as you possibly can without pulling a tendon. I believe the system as it stands is built mostly by debt. You beat them at their own game by making sure they always owe you.

Ok, everyone on board now? Do you understand the genius that is Full Frontal Investing? If you are as excited about this amazing opportunity as I am, please send six monthly payments of $69.99 to The Church of Financial Slavery and we'll rush you our amazing packet on how to change your life through our simple money saving techniques. And remember. "Set it! And Forget it!"

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