Walk


I’ve decided that, as a long-term but in the not-too-distant future goal, I want to walk around the country. Yes, walk around.

The plan is to start at Calais, Maine and head through the Green Mountains, down Lake Champlain and south into the Catskills of New York, across the Appalachian range in Pennsylvania, across the eastern and central plains, south to Missouri and west through Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, through New Mexico, north across the basins on the western side of the Rockies and past the Great Salt Lake, into the Pacific northwest.

That should take me around a year. At that point, I’ll have to hang out in the northwest until it gets warm enough to cross the high plains safely.

Then I’ll cross through Montana and the Dakota ranges and into Minnesota. From there, I’ll see the source of the great Mississippi river and cross over into Wisconsin. I’ll explore the UP of Michigan and cross into the LP, heading through Indiana and Kentucky and diving down and down into the south. From Tennessee I’ll follow the Mississippi into the state of the same name, crossing over into Louisiana as the river starts to mouth. I’ll see the great delta and follow the coast through northern Florida, heading into Savannah, Georgia and back up the Atlantic line from there. I’ll pass through the Chesapeake and back into the Great Megalopolis in the northeast. I’ll complete my walk in Boston, possibly as late as three years after the start of my journey.

How am I going to do this?

I have no idea, but I’m going to find out.

Update

Hi, Gang.

I know I haven’t posted photos or lighthearted writing
in a while. I apologize about that. We’re wrapping up the November issue, and as always, we’re down to the wire.

My house is a mess. Something is growing in my kitchen. My laundry is done, but only because I had to go to a wedding for my girlfriend’s cousin this past weekend. I haven’t been writing enough to keep anyone entertained on here. Apology again.

A lot of things have been going on. Expect 5 more posts tonight.

What to do with time…

I’m a Managing Editor for a regional magazine, and I’m not sure how long I’m going to be doing this or what comes next for me. I’ve been being deluged by the bigger questions in life which seem to be penetrating my skull and crushing my will to ignore my assessments of where the world is going and where it will be in 20 years.
These assessments are guesses at best, but the majority of information I see points to a few key things:

1) We are the children of the great market empire which consumes all and asks nothing less than complete submission to the way of growth and competition.

2) This empire, like all empires, will not last forever. Make no mistake, I live comfortably, I love life, and I enjoy the luxuries that our current mode of society has provided for me, but one thing is clear: this rate of consumption cannot be continued indefinitely, and it is up to the people-at-large to determine, aforehand if possible, what will happen when we reach our peak, and what best to keep civilization in progress when the decline goes from a slight downward plateau to a steep drop.

3) Technology is not a cure all. It can help us to reach the next plateau of being only after we find a more sustainable source of energy, and more importantly, after we are able to dissolve archaic yet impermeable barriers such as religion and fervent nationalism. We must accept that–as a society reaching the global point of transportation, commerce, and culture–we are bound to each other; the livlihood of the individual depends on the work of millions and the infinite transactions that take place to provide us with the services and products we use daily, whether benefitting from them directly or indirectly. There is more to be said about this third point, for sure–but until particular sub-cultures reach a point of understanding with supposedly opposing sub-cultures, new technology leads us to nothing but new methods of separating ourselves from what we consider “the other.”

I don’t mean to place such a heavy post directly after my oil decline post, but it’s starting to become clear to me that if I want to forge a bigger purpose for myself in life, these are some of the things that I should be thinking about–not to worry myself to the point that it takes most of my energy, but to the point that I’m clear what the challenges for our generation will be as we enter the ages where our influence will permeate the direction we take as the major biological force on the planet.

Yikes. Talk about responsibility.

Decline

Delta and Northwest are Dying, and it’s not because people aren’t flying anymore.

Gas Prices hit $2 a gallon last year, and though I heard a lot of complaints from my co-workers at Canandaigua Wine, after 2 weeks of paying unprecedented prices, no one seemed to care much anymore.

Everywhere I went, I saw hand-drawn 2’s sitting on the pump price signs, there having been a painted-on and supposedly permanent ‘1’ sitting in front of the decimal point for the past 15 years or so (at least in the Northeast).

$2 was an outrage just last year. Now we pay $3, and we’re told it’s because of our gulf refineries. I laugh about it as I read a story in the newspaper that tries to justify a 60-cent jump in a week. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying my fair share of the cost of crude oil. Americans have been lazily soaking up super-cheap gas for decades.

What I do mind is being lied to about why gas prices are jumping the way they are.

The age of oil is about to reach its limit.

Don’t misunderstand the statement. I’m not saying that you’re going to be going about daily life, and all the sudden Mr. W is going to appear on television and say…

“My fellow Americans–we just sucked air through the oil straw. We’re plum out. God bless freedom.”

That’s not how it’s going to happen. It will be a decline that looks much like the incline in production that we’ve experienced since the dawn of the 20th century. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be pretty. Even decades ago, we’ve waged wars to protect resource interests that we don’t have (and, indeed, haven’t had) here at home since 1973. This cycle will not relent. Hybrid cars and bio-diesel aren’t going to save us. There is a clear fact: we will not
continue our lifestyles for another generation.

$3 for gas is the least of our worries. Crude oil is used for much more than refining gasoline. We make plastic with it as well. That’s right. The casing for the monitor you’re looking at was made with–you’ve got it–oil. The keyboard you’re using to type your angry response to me, telling me that I’m just a doomsayer trying to frighten the masses, that was also made with the help of oil. When you go and glab a glass of water out of your gallon jug of Poland Spring, that polyethylene terephthalate bottle was also created with help from our greasy friend from the ground.

“We’ll find more. We haven’t found all the oil there is yet.”

We’ve been looking, friends. In the mid-60’s we found one the largest caches of the precious fluid to date. Since then, prospects have been rather grim. Even as our technology for finding it has become better and better, our returns get lower and lower. That’s not really a promising sign for the future. In the 1960’s, our methods for finding oil seemed to be working just fine. Forty-five years later, do you think our technological methods for subsurface scanning are much better, or much worse?

Judging from our discoveries, you’d be inclined to say worse, but that’s ludicrous. We throw more and more money every year at finding new fields, even to the point of searching deep water oil and layers of shale and sand in search of “heavy oil.”

It seems that our world energy executives are procrastinating. They’re waiting for a miracle solution that will appear before them. It’s not going to. Though we can find hydrogen in space, here on earth it’s not too readily available in large quantities. Sure, we can make it from water, but that takes electricity. In other words, it takes energy to make energy. This is the problem with methanol and bio-deisel. Sure, they burn cleaner and they seem like good ideas, but in the end they cost more energy to prepare and refine than we get from using them.

I’d say burning coal to make electricity to run the plant that’s making methanol or extracting hydrogen from water isn’t a real stable long term solution to the oil problem.

Happy trails, kids. Don’t drive too much.

Here are some links that have to do with the subject at hand.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/cst-fin-oil18.html (Recent Chicago Sun-Times)

http://www.hubbertpeak.com/ (Hubbert accurately predicted our Nation’s peak in the 70’s)

http://www.peakoil.org/ (another oganizational site)

http://www.geologie.tu-clausthal.de/Campbell/lecture.html (A lecture by Professor Campbell)

http://peakoil.blogspot.com/ (A fellow blog that illustrates the issue better than I)

http://www.peakoilaction.org/ (Citizens on the headway)

http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/1546/ (A Vonnegut warning)

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2005/09/19/2003272353 (We’re not the only ones worried)

Welcome to the Hotel Calif–

Is about all I hear before I mash the buttons of my alarm clock with an unaware hand. It’s 6:45 again, and despite the fact that my legs burn and my eyes are glazed shut, I hear one word in my mind as I prepare to go back to sleep and wait for my 7:30 to wake me up.

“Run.”

Being brave, I decide to stand up. My legs creak, moving like old iron hinges. There’s no way. There’s no way I’m going to do this again this morning. I ran twice yesterday. I can skip this morning, because I ran twice yesterday.

“Stretch.”

Fine. I guess as long as I’m up, I’m going to have to get my body moving. I decide to stretch. Halfway through my routine, I feel it. My body is already preparing for it. My muscles are getting loose and my mind is starting to wake up. They want to run. I lace up and grab a quick glass of water before I go.

It’s not as cool out as I’d like it to be, but we have plenty of fall for that. Last week it was getting into the 50’s at night, which is perfect. Unfortunately, this week we’re getting a lot of sub-tropical weather; warm air dense with water vapor. I don’t run well in the heat. I walk up to the corner of Broad and East John for my warm-up, and I hit the clock.

I reach the crossing at Broad and Harford and I’m stopped by the traffic. I hit the watch and take a look at it. Shit. 5:50. I was here at 5:47 yesterday. The traffic breaks and I start the clock again, running up the street.

I’m looking at the crossing of Sixth and Harford, which of course, is my 1 mile mark. I’m being careless about my pace trying to beat my best mile. I hit the split in the middle of the road on Sixth. 7:05.

I shaved seven seconds off yesterday’s mile, but I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m underhydrated, and I know it’s going to cost me. When I break up seventh street I want to so badly to start walking. I want to walk the rest of the way home.

I don’t, of course, but I do get careless about my path and miss a whole block I need to run a complete two-mile course. I don’t realize this until I return to Broad and see that I’m on High Street instead of George. I’m pissed, but I try not to let it bother me. I take an extra loop around the last block and call it a morning, since I have no way of telling what’s going to gain me back my two full miles. The clock stops at 14:12, but it’s an unofficial time and I’ll have to clock it by car later.

With a second “mile” time of 7:07, it’s pretty unlikely that I made up the distance I needed. However, I did officially finish that first mile in 7:05.

In the past, my fastest off season mile was 5:51 (1999) and my fastest personal mile is 5:17 (1997). I have a long way to go.

Run

I bought a pair of running shoes this week. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a pair. Anyway, after I broke them in and decided I wasn’t going to have a heart attack if I pushed myself a little bit, I tried three miles.

I took it slow. I made myself jog the whole time, but I didn’t push hard knowing I had to go to work in another 2 hours. I did three miles in just under 27 minutes.

That was kind of a relief, especially since I barely expected a nine-minute mile. I’m not as out of shape as I thought I was. More importantly, I loved how it felt to run again. The tension surging all through me, breathing out the stomach cramps and telling myself not to walk. I remember how it felt to put all my effort into something. I remember how it felt to simply go and stop worrying about the mechanics of the act. Move. All you have to do is keep moving.

It was raining really hard tonight. Thunder and lightning. I kind of wanted to go watch the jam session at the waterwheel, but more than that, I wanted to run in the rain.

I bought a stopwatch yesterday for the sole purpose of marking my miles. I wanted to see what kind of pace I could hold. So even though I got up this morning to run my three miles at a nice easy pace, I wanted another go at it in the storm.

I wanted to push this time.

As I approached the end of that first mile, I was already burning bad. I crossed Harford and Sixth, my 1.0 marker at 7:12. Just over 7 minutes. That’s not so bad for someone who’s been behind a desk for the last five months.

Just because you do one in 7:12 doesn’t mean you’ll do three in 21:36 though. Halfway through mile two, I decided two was going to be enough. There’s no point in hurting
myself to prove I’m not a superhero. Choosing to end it on two meant I could push that much harder while I was still running, though. I looped up 7th and made the criss cross up 6th and 5th that would give me another full mile as I headed back toward my house. (The worst thing is having to cross broad, because I’m not sure if I should stop the watch or what…)

The best part of a race is the end. When I ran cross country, I was running a race where this kid from Victor just kind of latched on to me. I would pass him, he would pass me. I would pass him, he would pass me. In the last 400m of that race, we were skipping over people like rocks across water trying to beat each other out. In the last 50m my stride won out, probably by less than one second.
We shook hands going down the ramp. It didn’t matter who crossed the line first or what our times were. We each knew that without the other, we’d still be somewhere along that 3.1-mile track, pushing just hard enough to make it look like we were trying.

After I crossed broad I let everything out, curling down 4th back towards High Street. When I hit the two mile mark, I stopped the watch and slowed myself to a jog. I decided not to look at the watch until I finished my cool down. I jogged for a half block, went into a walk, and finally looked at the timer.

14:52.

I haven’t lost the runner in me. I thought the 1st mile was my undoing, but I managed to hold the 2nd mile to under 8 minutes, almost matching my pace.

So for reasons of keeping track of my progress:

Two Mile– One 7:12 Two 7:40
Total 14:52

DREAM: Living Machinery

Very strange dream last night.

I’m in some sort of house with some old friends from high school. I don’t really talk to any of these people anymore, they’re just these kind of random minor characters that your brain uses when it doesn’t want you associating anything important to the people in your dreams.

I look out the window and see this kind of machine walking up a ramp coming from underground. it has big headlight-style eyes and looks, effectively, like an old science fiction movie robot. Upon topping the ramp, the thing is attacked by what I have to assume is human interference. It’s damaged, but it tries to get up and continue walking. Two more “robots” are heading up the ramp in the same pace. Once again, the first robot is attacked and the next two are damaged the same way. Now all three are pretty well destroyed, but they continue trying to peice themselves together and a man in a chemical suit scoops up the parts onto a large metal shelf and places them in an incinerator.

I remember how sad I was watching this happen. I didn’t know what these things were, or if they had thought or will or any of those qualities we align with consciousness, but I remember feeling awful about watching them be destroyed.

The man in the chemical suit takes the now-blackened parts out of the incinerator and looks at them. Some quality about them scares him, and I can tell that there’s something that hasn’t been destroyed–I’m thinking that the data in the parts is still “alive.” He puts the metal shelf back into the incinerator and turns the machine on again, only this time the machine doesn’t heat up. There’s a huge dynamo on an extension of the machine that starts spinning, and immediately I realize that he’s putting the charred parts through a type of miniature particle accelerator to try and destroy whatever intelligence remains in the wreckage. I finally decide I can’t take anymore and I leave the house and walk out to the dynamo, placing my hands on it. It starts to smoke and buzz, as if I’ve shorted it out just by making tactile contact with it. The electrical distrurbance begins to spread to the rest of the machine. I’ve ruined this implement of destruction–this incinerator/accelerator.

That’s about where the dream ends. Very very strange.

Canandaigua


So Jodi drove to Milford on Thursday night and we left for Canandaigua the next day. The drive up was miserable, I took the interstate highways the whole way, which made the trip extremely slow on a friday evening.

We spent two nights in my old hometown, and both of them were wonderful. I saw a good mix of people that included family and friends, and I swam in the lake for the first time in something like 5 years.

It felt good to be home at the start of the fall season. I went to South Bristol and picked up ten grape tarts from a stand on route 21 that I used to go to religiously. I went to Wegmans so I would be reminded of what a real grocery store was supposed to look like. I went to the Rose Corner Bakery and had an incredible breakfast.

I’ll be updating my photo archive in the next couple of days or so with pictures from this weekend.

So we’re heading into our indian summer. Something tells me that this winter isn’t going to be like the last. In four months we’ll be in the last half of the decade. The clock keeps on ticking.

This year has been interesting so far. Where will I be a year from now?

The Muir House


I remember when I first saw the place in February– unused, quiet. The snow was still on the ground. From the sunlit room in the upstairs of the place sat some stationery, a few loose papers and envelopes with the name and address of the inn on the top of them. Without completely knowing why, I grabbed one of the envelopes as a memento of my visit to Milford.

A little over two months later, I moved into the same room.

Before the middle of April, my living situation was good. Really good. Too good. I pretty much had a three bedroom house offered to me by my good friend Matt, provided I didn’t mind him using the barn as his office and using the house as his sanctuary. It was a good deal.

Of anything else in my life, I’m glad I’ve always had good friends. No matter how recluse I tried to be or how alone I wanted to convince myself I was, I was never really alone at all.

Ok, I won’t go into the sponge-cake sap. Sorry.

I’m just trying to say that no one gets anywhere by themselves. No matter how independently I’ve lived life, I’ve always had someone to admire, someone to talk to, and someone be honest with me. There are a lot of people who have taken those roles at a lot of different times, but I’m glad that the positions were never absent.

Again with the sponge-cake.

Fuck it. I’m feeling really sentimental right now, and if I want to be sentimental, I’m going to be sentimental.

Thanks, everybody.

Anyway, I guess all of this came up as a result of me moving the rest of my belongings out of the Muir House. One of the operators asked me where I moved to, and said, “So I guess you’re a permanent resident then? You’re not going back to New York?”

I thought about the question for a second and immediately thought of my three-month adventure marker. Any of the big
jumps I made in life–any of the moves or changes in living quarters–all of them lasted for three months or less, at which point I would either return to Canandaigua or move somewhere else.

May, June, July, August… Well, we’re up to four.

I’m settled now. I don’t get lost in town. I know how to avoid the corner of Harford and Broad and what time to avoid it. I can answer the phone at the office without stuttering. When I walk through the Old Lumberyard, there’s a slim chance I’ll walk through it without seeing someone I know.

This is the kind of stuff that turns “the place I live” into “home”.

Am I still stuck on the city? Absolutely.

But it’s not time yet. It will be time soon enough, and when that time comes, and I make my pilgrimage to wherever I land in the 5 boroughs, I’ll miss this place. I’ll miss Milford just like I miss the Winery right now. I’ll miss my apartment on Broad Street like I miss my Basement in Canandaigua.

Because of what I asked for when I was a teenager, I’m always struck with the feeling that whatever I’m doing now, I may never be doing it again for the rest of my life. I speak in terms of an occupation, of course–in my spare time I’ll always be writing and playing music; you know, the stuff that doesn’t pay bills for the moment.

A couple of the last items I moved out of the Muir House were my helmets from the Winery, all decorated with little symbols and writing.

I grabbed the last of my leftover belongings and hit the lights. I closed the door leading to the back porch knowing that it was the last time I’d close that door.

I took my half-dead orchid off the porch and walked down the stairs, smelling rain on asphalt and the absolute peak of the summer.