“If it requires a uniform, it’s a worthless endeavor.”
“There is always a sadness about packing. I guess you wonder if where you’re going is as good as where you’ve been.”
-Richard Proenneke -One Man’s Wilderness
Scratching granular across the page; ink attaching at the molecular layer to mush paper fibers, bleeding at the feathers into the next line.
Dusty sharp pen scrawls push scent smells up and into my memories. Proust has nothing on mould, pens, papers and forget his damn madeleines.
Candles flickering at the corners of the page, dim lights turning my scrawling into mere shadows, fading from the light, dimly bleeding away.
Can we catch our tears before they drip from the page, and fall as ink into dust?
I have been using the Osprey Veer Resource bag since 2010 as my ‘walking bag’ whenever I go out for a walk, or a short bike ride. I keep it to pretty minimal contents; mostly my iPad, a few pens and my Moleskine. Thats pretty much it most of the time.
I bought the blue one in these pictures at REI in Portland back in 2010, I wanted something I could keep essentials in, and since I am a huge fan of Osprey Packs, I bought this without hesitation, and it really has served me well. I used it very regularly from 2010 till 2013, then I gave it away. After a few months of carrying my heavy Momentum 34 pack with me everywhere, I realized how much I missed having something small and easy to grab on my way out the door, so I went to buy another one, only to find that Osprey had discontinued them. I watched eBay like a hawk, and finally bought another one this year. (Red this time)
Other than two small irritations (more on that later) I am really in love with this bag, it has a great strap design so that it sits right on the small of the back when you are walking, and doesn’t interfere with your hands, or get in the way at all. Unlike a backpack which is hard to get into if you want something, you can just swing the veer around easily and access the contents on the move. It has a flap on the front that is secured with Velcro, and has a place for a few pens, and a small hidden pocket where I keep my Moleskine.
The main compartment has a protective flap over the zippers to help keep moisture out, which I think is a really thoughtful design idea. I keep my iPad in there, as well as a larger journal or some other project from time to time. I will often throw in a bluetooth keyboard if I am going to do any long-form writing.
On top is the best pocket on the bag, it is right where your hand naturally falls when you grab for the bag, and I use it to keep things I want instant access to. I keep a flashlight there, and headphones, a cliff-bar and a multi-tool most of the time. I know that this bag has a pretty strong following in the concealed carry community because of this pocket, it almost seems engineered for CC.
There is a place to put a water-bottle, and in my case; I keep a 18oz Hydrofask there most of the time.
The only 2 things I don’t like about the bag, are the poorly designed outside flap pocket, it has a very short zipper which restricts access, and seems like it would have been better if it were a vertical zipper instead. the smart-phone pocket on the strap is also too small. It barely fits an iPhone 5s, and I don’t think it would fit a 6 at all.
At this point (2 years after Osprey discontinued production) you are probably going to have a hard time finding one outside of eBay, but I still think its the best small walking bag ever made.
Time Is Money, Time Is Life, Therefore Money = Life
Spend your money wisely.
How much is your time worth?
Each one of us sells ourselves every working day of our lives, you sell little bits of your life to your employer every day you go to work. How much is your life worth?
The most basic economy is a barter economy, this is where I can take the milk my cow produces, (costing me lots of time and energy to prepare, care for and manage) and then barter it to you for some of the corn you grew last season, (which also cost you in time and effort) I then have what I wanted, and you have what you wanted. I don’t need to grow corn since I can turn my labor into milk from my cow, and then turn that milk into corn by trading to you. This system works only when you have something I need and I have something that you need, but what happens when you don’t need or want the milk? Perhaps you want a new rake instead?
So I take my milk down the street to the blacksmith instead and trade him the milk for the rake, and then the rake for the corn I need….. you see the problem of-course. This system has major limitations because I can never be sure I can turn my product or service into the things I need efficiently, so the market comes up with one step in-between. That step is money.
Money is simply abstract time/labor, you might not realize it, but we are still very much using the same kind of transactions as a barter economy, but what we are doing is using a sort of universal labor credit (the currency we use to make transactions) to facilitate those trades.
I still work hard to care for my dairy farm, I still expend time, energy and labor, and in return my cow gives milk which is a commodity that I can use to get other things or services with. I sell the milk to the market (anyone who wants it) and get money in return. This money is an abstract representation of my labor. It is a portion of my life and energy made into something I can hold in my hand. Money is abstract time, money is your life.
Every dollar you earn is a little bit of your life that you have sold to someone else, it is your life energy made into small paper bits that you trade with other people to get what you want, and for them to get what they want. The more money you have, the more life you have. Think about this:
If I want to build a house, I can do it 2 ways: I can either expend a great deal of time and effort and do it all myself, (very difficult in modern times because of various restrictioans, but lets imagine it on a more primitive scale) or I can have that same house built with the money I have accumulated over time, (my savings) since that money is my time turned into a tradable item, I am really just using my own time to build that house. I choose to hire a crew of workers to build it, but since they are selling me their time for bits of my own time that I have saved up, it serves the same purpose. My house gets built by the expenditure of my own life and energy.
Money is life. Perhaps not your own, since you can inherit money, or perhaps come into a windfall of wealth, but fundamentally the money in your bank account is time, and the debt you have, is a debt of time.
Spend your time wisely.
The Winsor And Newton Bijou box is an exquisite objet d’art, I find pleasure in simply owning this little jewel of a watercolor set. It is made by a UK art supply company and is rather hard to obtain in the USA, so i had this one shipped from London many years ago. If comes with 8, colors of artist grade watercolors. (It is important to note that the pigments in the artist grade line -as opposed to the student grade paints, are vibrant and burst with color)
This is a simple object, it is an enameled metal box will space for 12, 1/2pans of watercolor paint, and a tiny, tiny brush. Thats it. It has no buttons, no lights, and takes no batteries. It’s design hasn’t really changed much in decades, (other than the lid which seems to have only 2 mixing areas now, as opposed to the 4 areas that mine has) the design is perfect as it is, there is no ned to change it. I love this little box.
There is a thumb ring that folds out on the bottom, so you can use it as a tiny little pallet, it has a lid that you mix your paint in, and a very small brush, (which I don’t use much since I use a waterbrush) this is good design and a mature object. There is no where else to go with this design, it is perfect, perfect, perfect.
I love to use it in conjunction with a watercolor Moleskine, and a waterbrush, this is the art trifecta. A perfect set for creativity and inspiration. This is one of those items that I would replace without question if it was ever lost or broken.
“What do you do?”
This is a question for which I have no answer. I get asked this often, and it is the prerennial american question, we are defined by what we do. We are our jobs. I don’t have an answer because I don’t get my identity from my job description, I don’t see the connection between what a person does to earn a living and their self description. If one is to answer the question truthfully it can’t just be the description of your day-job, since that is only a small fraction of your duties in life, but that is what the questioner is asking, ‘what is your day job?’
Why does it matter if I scrub floors in a hotel, or meet with investors, or drive a truck? Perhaps your janitor is also an amateur electronics engineer, or the professional negotiator is an aspring actor, or the truck driver writes mystery novels…Of what use is the question: ” What do you do?”
I do everything.
There is that which can not be understood; a sharply defined realm of the unknown, our minds touch upon this secret only fleetingly. In a moment of self reflection and lucidity, there can only be silence of the soul. When the mind is free from any shadows of fear or lingering nightmare; then and only then can this be explored.
The key turns slowly in the lock.
The gate slides open to frigid darkness and vibrant color; pigments of very thought. My heart leaps in my throat choking away the consciousness. With timid, and faltering steps I cross the threshold to enter the silent chamber. Give me a way to capture this essence of life and return it to this world of horror and shame.
I shall shiver away the curtain of darkness that enshrouds our world, I will copy the keys and give them to all the gatekeepers and charge them to let all pass who desire entrance. When the last of our mindless shades have passed forever from the torrid darkness and into the color of thought; the gates will be shut fast, and the keys all melted down to nothing, and this realm returned to desolation with only myself: a lone sacrifice.
Guarding the void from habitation.
I am the Writer who does not write, and the poet with few poems.
I see myself as a writer; it is my self identity. When I imagine myself in my minds-eye, I am personified as a writer, I see the future in the context of writing, and I fully expect to write, yet the time goes by and I do not.
I relate to the world as a writer, I refer to myself as a writer… Yet I do not write. Oh sure, I pen a few sentences once in a while, and often I will dive whole-heartedly back into a novel or article I have been writing for a while, but in the long run, I haven’t really written all that much. A few short stories, thirty or so poems, and five or six novels in various stages of completion… Pitiful I think.
Though I know this; it seems that the pressing moments of my life take precedence over that which I really desire to do. Yes, that desire is to write.
So I come to the crux of the issue: I must simply steal the time to write from other interests. I must be a miser when it comes to my free time, and devote myself to the task as though I were a monk in meditation.
I know that to resolve to do this is no small thing, and would be easy to just forget and eventually just lose interest completely. Yet, if I do, I shall live my life in regret. I am now 33, and have intended, and longed to write for a full 15 years, what others have accomplished in less time leaves me to shame.
I am the shadow of a forgotten memory glistening on my windowpane,
All wet with morning rain.
The man I see, only fleetingly; is never me!
Yet his visage follows my every waking step.
A dash of wine; spattered on my ragged beard, like so much unneeded blood;
I wonder if it is mine.
The ache of forgetfulness seeps into my soul, and I am grateful,
For the reprieve.
Darkness beneath the trees; twilight falls slowly down to the mossy leaf strewn earth, while I wait hidden between the dark void of the sky, and the sharp eyes of my pursuers, I keep my breath low and patient, my gaze even and wary. Time crawls across my rifle barrel and drips from my lips. It is the only real currency in this old world, it is the only thing we have to spend. Your time can be wasted away, or given away, bartered away, and taken away.
Movement crests the ridge below, and two men push their shoulders up against the deepening sky, moving silently into view like small black beetles crawling over a branch… They are looking for me.
They have been found.
Crosshairs divide features from darkness, silence from an echoing report. Unspent time… Unspent time.
I love the IBM Model M.
The Mighty Model M 122 Key Terminal Keyboard, this is the keyboard of the gods. Zeus uses one to update his blog, and post pictures of his cat.
Just about the only piece of computing hardware from the 1980s that is still useful on a daily basis. (in-fact I am using one right now to tap this out)
The layout of this keyboard is still used today, and the same basic keyboard is still in production today; just under a different name. I have several of these lying about from old 286 PS/2 systems, and I have been doing some updates and modifications to a few of them. The terminal Keyboards are all getting updated to USB 2.0 using Soarers converter (an ATMEL MEGA32U4 based converter that can act as a USB HID device), I have converted 3 of them so far, and you can read about my conversion service here: IBM Model M Keyboard read more…
There are things slipping away from me.
Little birds that don’t sit on my chair-rails; and a dog that never comes to me when I forget to call her. Maybe I should put the phone back on the wall… I think enough time has passed.
When the bell rings, I go down to see if there is anyone there, but there never is. I wonder if I should close the shop up early tonight?
All the trinkets are gone from the shelves, or they are drowning in their own private blanket of dust. Perhaps I will put up the ‘closed’ sign; and take a walk.
The night is just a piece of sad velvet after all.
Why are some places more inspiring than others? Why do I fail to create anything in my day to day life, and then when I leave and go to a new town, down a different road, or travel far far away, then suddenly the inspiration flows easily? Is is the dull unending routine that I am yearning to break free of? Is is just that I lose those mental dead-ends when I have to think differently? What makes those creative juices start to flow?
Will I lose that spark of new ideas and insight when I move away from here, and finally settle into the new life I make there? Will that then become the routine, and then years later I will realize that the muse is gone again? Am I to ever be a gypsy in search of an elusive firefly?
Cut out the cruft, and streamline. Look to the goals I have set.
I need to restructure my life, to concentrate on my goals and dreams. I need to work on cutting out all the cruft and create a better faster more streamlined me.
There isn’t enough time in one human life to do even half the things I want to do, so I have to throw out the old and choose carefully the direction I want to go. There is no room for mediocrity.
I got sucked into a MMORPG. I used to never play games, beyond simple puzzle and iPhone games, I just never had the time to play, and no real desire to invest the time. The last time I had played a computer game and cared about it, it was QUAKE II, back in the late 90s. I just don’t play games.
Or at-least I didn’t. A few months ago we had some houseguests for about a week, and they kept talking about this ‘Lord Of The Rings Online’ game which they wanted Ami and I to try. I was actually pretty resistant to the idea because I really don’t have the time to spend playing an involved game like that, but they persuaded us to give it a try.
Now I am hopelessly addicted.
The game is designed around the world of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord Of The Rings’, which I have always loved. I read the books several times when I was younger, and went to see all the movies as they were released about 10 years ago. (wow! was it really 10 years ago?)
The biggest draw for me in this game is all about exploring and seeing the locations, the game designers really did an excellent job with this game. They put a lot of work into the locations, they feel authentic and each area does have its own feel and pace. A lot of similar games seem to lack that connection, and it really shows that the game designers are really fans of the master-work at heart.
I especially like wandering and exploring, there are a lot of areas that have less to do with game-play and more with just awing someone who stumbles upon them. The ruins in the hills and the gorges and waterfalls make me want to go there in reality.
Ever since watching the films, I have wanted to live in Rivendell, I love the half-outdoor half-indoor settings, and the way the leaves cover the walkways. I know most of that is just CGI, but imagine how wonderful it would be to really live in a place like that? The stone simplicity, the rushing water and the bite of the winter wind. the smell of the moss and lack of cars, busses and wagons.
Imagine the quality of life if we could live like that? Using the natural world to make our homes, much like the birds and other wild creatures do. Stone is beautiful when if blends with the rest of the environment, and we are better people when we are connected to our environment and not isolated inside an air-conditioned, steel and glass box. I want hobbit-houses and Rivendell style places to be real, and not just in the imagination.
Why do we insist on living in a card-board existence and hiding ourselves away from the natural beauty that is all around in the woods, fields and mountains?
I will quote one of my favorite authors: George R.R. Martin
The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real .. for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.
Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.
They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.
Quite well spoken.
Life is all about balance. Between pleasure and duty; between desires and reality.
I can’t seem to find a good mix between my Maker side, and my Minimalist side.
On the one side is my obsession with creating things, fixing broken stuff, and modifying and generally tinkering constantly with electronics, bikes, cars, you name it. This makes a huge pile of parts, pieces, bits, odds and ends.
On the other side is the rest of my personality which is driven to simplify, refine, purge and clarify. I don’t like stuff lying about unorganized, and I also resent the time I have to spend thinking about the detritus of my life. I see those pictures of the minimalist rooms with everything perfectly aligned and nothing out of place and I am frustrated at my own lack of zen.
A few times a year I set out to just drop anything unnecessary, and get rid of all this clutter in my mind and also in my house, but each time I go through the boxes of parts that I keep organized, I feel torn.
Why can’t I be single faceted?
Why is it that nearly everyone expects, and wants a career that is dependent on others? A larger entity than ourselves seems to offer stability and control, we don't feel like we are all alone on the seas of change, we are anchored to something larger and greater, and that gives strength to our small petty lives. A career is something like that, it is a system of climbing up through the ranks of others who are doing just the same, and who are fighting you for a chance to be where you want to be.
I have always looked at the idea of a career with apprehension and suspicion. It seems to be only a gilded coffin to climb into and then pull down the lid, and nail it closed with your own hands. The idea of staying inside the same system year after year, and moment after moment is so limiting and degrading. I want my horizons open and the skies clear of clouds. I like to keep my bags packed and always be ready for the next challenge. After about 5 years of doing the same thing, and being the same place, I start to get itchy feet and want to head out and start new.
Several years ago, I worked in maintenance at a manufacturing plant, and there were several people who worked on the production lines who had been there for 20 years doing the same job. That would be torture for me. The complete end to everything I am. I would shrivel up and die if i didn't have variety in my life. I can simply not imagine a life that is unchanging like that. How can one possibly cope?
I remember that they were nice guys, but their whole life revolved around going home and cracking open a beer in-front of the TV. How is it possible to live like that?
I want to send my daughter to a good school. What parent doesn’t want that for their kid? I want her to learn the skills she needs to survive in this damn mess we call a society. What I don’t want is to send her away to be indoctrinated into a narrow-minded view of the world. I don’t want to send her to the Warren PA public school system because I have seen what comes out of that school system and I don’t want that for my daughter. I don’t want the influences of the kids she will be around, and I don’t want the constant undermining of our parenting. I don’t want her to be indoctrinated into secular humanism or any of the other narrow mindsets of modern public schools. I don’t want her to come to see the state as the solution to all the problems in the world, I don’t want her to lose sight of who she is, or to be bullied into submission. I want her to learn critical thinking.
So the obvious choice from there is to send her to a private school, but the options around here are very limited. I want a school to focus on academics, critical thinking, and history. Once she learns to read well, the rest will naturally flow from there. I learned nearly everything I know simply from reading books and observing life, I have no reason to believe that she won’t be the same. So I want a school who will allow her to come to conclusions based on facts, who won’t be a harmful influence to the upbringing of her parents. This seems impossible here.
I most want her to attend a Montessori school, I believe that she would do well in that setting since she is a naturally very bright kid, and she takes to things with excitement. She does have trouble following tasks through to completion, but the environment that would foster her creativity is what would do her the most good. Trouble is, that there are no Montessori schools near this horrible little town of Warren PA.
There are only a few choices around here for private education, and most are nearly as dismal as the public schools. We will probably end up putting her in Lighthouse Baptist Academy in Jamestown NY. I am not thrilled at that prospect since it is just another form of indoctrination that we will have to overcome, but my wife attended there, and we do have some friends and contacts who send their kids there, so it won’t be all bad, I do think that they will give a strong early start to her education, and since we won’t be living here long-term I can allow it for the time being, but I want so much more for her. She is such a bright little kid that it would be a cruel shame for us to continue to live in this cesspool of a town and settle for a redneck education. I will not stand by and let it happen.