Empty Days

Friday, August 20, 2004



Biking with cars.

Found rather enlightening advice on how to ride with high-speed traffic:
Third: if at the same time there are oncoming vehicles, you must learn very quickly one of the nastiest lessons on the road. You have no right to expect a driver to edge over toward the lane of oncoming traffic if they feel it is threatening. Maybe they will still edge over a bit...but don't count on it. This is where your mirror can save your life! You must make a judgement about the cars coming from behind and in front of you and try and avoid the worst of all possible worlds: one where
====>You, the passing cars and oncoming cars are all at the same point at the same time! <===
I call this the 'gruesome threesome.' In this case...nobody has anywhere to go. But the situation is not hopeless....yet. Can you speed up a bit, or slow down some so that this situation does not arise? It doesn't take much effort to do this, especially if you see it coming pretty far in advance. Here again a rear view mirror helps. If you slow down, the sudden approach of your bike (from the perspective of the driver) may be frightening, when in fact you are trying to HELP! Let them know you want them to pass...again..wave them by! That was your whole point in slowing down to begin with. Don't be surprised if truckers, who are likely to understand completely the favor you just did them, honk and thank you profusely.
Yeah, you bet - I never thought I would need that mirror, but maybe I should get one after all. I am not really used to using a mirror on a bike and since I don't drive a car I am not used to checking mirrors at all. However on high-speed roads the bike naturally becomes more of an obstacle to cars than in town because of the much great difference in speed of traffic. So I guess he's right: you can't expect drivers to edge over every time as they do in town, quite simply because it's not always possible. When Ken Kifer describes the accidents he caused to drivers on his very first bike trips (precisely people who couldn't pass him due to upcoming traffic and panicked), it was likely because he was inexperienced with these situations and not simply because drivers back then were not used to bikes on the road.

Gruesome threesome, you bet.




Toobeedoo.

Feeling better today. For the heck of it slept in the sleeping bag tonight - apparently it's just too big for me. When I unzip it and roll it around snugly, it actually seems to provide actual heat. Zehr gut.

Got the bike up into my room and played with fixing a backpack and a shoulder-bag as rear panniers. So far so good - it did require some ingenuity but the upside is that they have all those helpful compartiments. However it is far from clear how this contraption will fare on a really bumpy ride. Maybe it will come apart and bag-corners will get into the spokes. I will need to perform a few simulation tests, shaking the bike wildly and maybe going on a short ride with these things, choosing the worst streets in town (who could guess that pot-hole filled roads in my borough could come in so handy one day?). Somehow I knew that this would work and that buying panniers was a luxury I did well to avoid.

One pleasant surprise is that all I was planning to take with me actually fits in - though I should probably think of leaving some space for occasional loads, like food and water. But it's a well known fact that a lot of stuff, and often of considerable dimensions, can be strapped to the bike, even without any panniers. I've transported bookshelves and armchairs on my bike - bungie cords and proper balancing did the trick.

Rear load should not be too heavy, so I guess I'll put those cast-iron tools in the handle-bar bag, with maps and other necessary stuff on top. I don't know how much water I would need to carry but since I am not exactly going into the desert, I guess two one-liter bottles would be plenty enough. I can't drink much liquid, as opposed to some people I know - it's beyond me how one is capable of downing one liter in a sitting (in London pubs I always tried hard to avoid those famous pints - I could never finish one for the life of me). So basically everything is fine and dandy and my bike won't be too heavy - most of the space is taken up by bulky yet fairly light stuff like clothing and sleeping bag with blanket.

*

One thing I am not really sure about is whether I should take a thermos with me. I have one taking up space from times immemorial, but it's a pretty sizable item and it doesn't hold as much liquid as a 1L bottle of comparable size so it can't really be used as one. It'd be nice to have something hot to drink in the evening, espcially since those evenings are likely to be rather chilly, and I am not at all sure I will find camping spots secluded enough to make a fire and boil some water over it - for tea, of course. Instead I could buy two cups of coffee along the way and put them in the thermos for later. Does it make sense? I am not sure.

I will still take matches with me for that improbable camp fire. In town there are wooded areas along various canals, railtracks, behind some abandoned buildings and such where youths go to make fires and drink beer away from law-abiding adults. But it's usually not the the kind of places you can access by bike - it would require some portage. Which is what I do actually when I go riding, I love discovering those wild places in town, but it wouldn't work with a loaded bike - that's precisely where one needs to throw bike over fences and drag it out of very deep overgrown ditches.

*

Ok, I discovered the right name for my project: stealth camping. There are still a lot of things I don't understand about it because my experience of north-american countryside is rather limited. When Ken Kifer describes how he rides all day long and can't find a place for camping, it's hard for me to imagine what he means by that. I suppose the "no tresspassing" signs everywhere for miles on end is what he means. I also don't fully appreciate what he means by such terms as "public right of way". What the fuck is that?

Interestingly enough, since my somewhat rustic childhood was spent in a communist country where the concept of private land did not exist, I still have a hard time understanding how this concept applies to vast expenses of space - you don't go into someone's backyard, that's obvious enough, but when this "backyard" is measured in tens of acres, how the hell does it matter if some passerby "infringes" on some remote corner of it? That's what I don't really get.

*

Ok, here is something that made my heart leap:

Q: Does anybody know if anyone has gone on a bike tour and never went home. They just stayed out touring on there bike's as a way of life. Maybe found work along the way. Has anyone here ever thought of doing that?

A: I always consider it, but I am sure there is a Danish guy who about 15 or 20 years ago went on a 2 week touring holiday and just phoned work to say he wasn't coming back. As far as I am aware he is still at it, on his umpteenth bike and gets by by casual labour and writing articles for bike mags.

Grand, hein? Went for a two-week trip... and never returned. That's what happens when you finally find your heart. It's like finding gold or that mythical water of life - can't get enough.

Thursday, August 19, 2004



What the fuck.

Went out to buy some food and the weather was just great after the big rain earlier on - refreshing breeze, sunny, blue skies. I felt revived. But then it turned out that a not at all heavy bag of groceries tired my arm beyond all measure.

I truly can't understand why I got so flimsy all of a sudden. In fact it feels exactly as if I were recuperating from some major flu and still feeling tired from too much depletion.

This is why I think of cancer or some such shit - it is as if there were some big immune-system effort going on somewhere in my body and I only get to feel the consequences of this invisible war. Either that or anxiety - but then it must have been some quite enormous anxiety I wasn't privy to.

Bought some green vegetables and will try to eat a lot of salad. Taking some vitamin C might also help. At least I hope so...




Handy cm-inch-feet converter.

Yards and all those non-decimal measures are a mystery to me - isn't it much easier to deal with things that multiply by 10? Everybody learns decimal system in maths, as far as I know.

1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 feet = 12 inch = 30.48 cm
1 yard = 3 feet = 91.44 cm
1 mile = 1760 yards = 5280 feet = 1.60934 kilometers

Just totally hopeless.




There was a pretty terrific downpour just now and I thought how my tarp-tent would handle it - no chance it would. Heh. The tent would need to be a closed cocoon to withstand all this water coming from all sides including the ground. It can only handle light rain, not the kind of tropical torrent I just witnessed. If any stuff like sleeping-bag happened to lay on the ground inside the tent, it would get soaked. Which is also why I worry so much about waterproofing shoes - wet feet are the worst thing in the end: either take the shoes off presto-subito when something like this starts or be able to wrap feet in plastic in under 10 seconds.

*

It's almost paradoxical that I am still thinking about this trip - with all this flatness and lack of energy and general apathy. I am not doing anything and I can't even recuperate. What the fuck. Maybe it's smoking that puts me down, what the hell.




No sleep for you, babe.

Still woke up flat today. Fuck this. Couldn't fall asleep early enough because of a huge party in the synagogue across the street - these people really love to honk at all hours of night, I wonder why it never occurs to them that those residential buildings all around are actually filled with actual people? They're having a few days of festivities in there, it seems, and the honking assholes are usually followed by equipment trucks that work until roughly 4am. The night before some huge truck came and started unloading stuff with incredible noise past 2am. This was so loud that I finally heard some exasperated resident yell to those stupid guys to calm down and stop throwing things into the truck. Unfortunately they resumed their style of loading a few minutes later.

The problem with this kind of thing is that if you're asleep and are being continuously waken up by these endless noises, you are pretty defenseless - because you try to sleep and not go out and start a fight with these fools. If you had to jump up every time and go give them hell, I don't think you'd sleep that night at all. I thought of giving a call to the police over the honking bastards last night but then I would have waken completely and would have had the hardest time going back to sleep. It just wasn't worth it.

Anyway, this synagogue has always been a problem because of this rawdy behavior. The only way to fight it would be a drawn out strategy of complaints to the municipal authorities and the synagogue administration, followed by calls to the police whenever they honk or make too much noise out there. In other words, it's a drag. The synagogue officials would first have to comply with this (which is why it might require some municipal orders to impress them) and then they would have to "educate" their public about not honking like crazy after midnight, let's say. And what about those trucks? I just don't know.

*

I once heard on the news that a big mosque in a well-off residential neighbourhood is creating offense because of large gatherings that bother residents. Yeah right. Maybe we should have a synagogue in the news for the same reasons - except that residents here are not well-off and live in lousy housings instead of dearly loved bungalows.

Yeah, it would be lovely - instead of some big awful news about a jewish public building being attacked ("nazis! racists! antisemites!") we should have some news about some such building disturbing the hell out of public peace. But then of course this is so impossible - jews never do wrong, everybody is so after them... even that local tv would be accused of propagating antisemitism for pointing them out this way.

But actually I am exaggerating. There is a pretty well-off french neighbourhood with a strong population of hassidic jews that got in the news because of a massive problem with loud hassidic festivities - the french residents got organized and started protesting these invasive habits. The fight lasted a long time and was well-publicized. From what I know, the french bourgeois in that area really hate those hassidic jews because the latter act as if they lived in a void. When you go there, these hassidim never look at you - it's just as if you didn't exist. Try to smile at them, they would turn away. In an old neighbourhood where people have their own houses and a strong community feeling, this behavior causes something of a chill and problems get exacerbated. Closed groups are usually fanatics, this is nothing new, but I have to wonder if the Amish for instance are as arrogant with outsiders as the Hassidim are.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004



Booties, spats, overshoes, gaters - whatever it's called.


That's exactly what I need. In a camping store it would probably shoot to $20 a pair. Perhaps I can actually construct these myself if I can buy some nylon bags in a dollar-store. Another time maybe.

*

Creeps - I am totally sleepy now. Off to bed at 8pm? Strange but true.





Another day lost.

I slept in again - up to 2pm. The problem is not that I go to bed late (which is something I do often in any case), the problem is that I don't seem to get enough sleep no matter what. Don't know what happened to my energy - it's simply not there at all and I feel flat all the time. This worries me: if I can't get back in some sort of shape really soon, I don't see how I am going to go anywhere. It's an obstacle I hadn't counted in.

*

The strange thing is that today I was woken twice - first by one of those loathsome telemarketer calls, then just after I fell back to sleep by a call from some old friends of my parents in Moscow. I had not directly communicated with them ever since my last visit in 1994, and there was never any reason for them to call me since.
I was still dizzy from sleep and could not comprehend who was calling, why, and how it is they were speaking in russian - I sort of expected another telemarketer and was ready to send him to hell presto-subito. The conversation was even more strange because I still didn't have all my head and just went along with whatever they were saying without understanding why they were calling. I still can't understand. My father and brother have a problem with them, so I guess they decided to go through me to restore relations with our family, I just don't know. If such was the objective, I wasn't very helpful because I could barely speek from sleep.
The strange factor is that nobody ever calls me except telemarketers and my parents - so anything beyond is always some big surprise from deep past, it just can't be anything else.

Anyway - I am still somewhat nonplussed about this whole thing, especially since they sounded so genuinely warm and welcoming as if I were their dearest friend. They said they've heard from my cousin that I was planning to visit. For some reason they really like me - from old memories of course, because I've changed quite a bit in 10 years but they don't know it. It's quite a funny thing: a lot of people seemed to admire and like me when I was much younger and much more active intellectually, much more ambitious. And this old image sort of hunts me whenever I meet such people from my past - I don't feel I deserve that sort of affection these days, because I am simply not the same person anymore.

*

Oh god, where is my energy? I wish I could wake up early in the morning full of zest and activity, and instead I sleep til late afternoon and can't be bothered to lift a finger to do anything.

*

I am sorry I damaged my wonderful nylon pants - they're light as a feather, i've never worn such light fabric it seems. But they're so flamable it's almost ridiculous: I could probably lose my pants right then and there if I stand too close to live fire at some point. A funny possibility.




Playing camp.

I decided to play camp, went on the lawn under my balcony and experimented with tarp-as-tent - it's kind of noisy and will be especially noisy under falling rain but it should do the job. Messing around with rope and tarp was fun - I felt like a kid again.

If there is a deluge I don't think I will be able to stay dry with the triangular tarp-over-rope between two trees construction - maybe I should experiment with some other designs tomorrow, in case there are any. Simplicity is the goal - I don't want to spend hours arranging shelter every evening. I suppose I would want to sleep without anything overhead as much as possible, and will only use tarp in case of rain. I would probably stretch the rope over sleeping bag so that if there is rain in the middle of the night I can throw the tarp over it and go on sleeping. So far what I have to decide is the ideal size of the tarp sheet (what I have now is a bit much and is hard to handle) and the height at which to put the rope. I think 2.5-3 feet of the ground is ok, but only for the night because it's a bit hard to sit in there. I will likely take a long metal stake with me, so that I can use it as a second post in case trees are too far apart or something, and then it will be a reclined triangle construction - less space but still good enough.

The minimum length of the triangle appears to be 8 feet - it looks pretty long already but anything else will leave me exposed to some rain getting in. My bright-blue sheet of tarp, the one I agonized over, was ideal I think - 8'x10'. This green one is supposed to be 9x12 but it measures 8.5x12. I believe I will have to cut it to 8.5x8 to make sure there are grommets on all four courners.

I feel like I am missing the best days of august right now - nights are very warm and days are sunny yet not too hot. At the same time I wasn't ready to go on Monday because there is a million little things that I need to figure out first - basic stuff like how to fasten a backpack as a rear-pannier for istance, and how to do the same for a simple shoulder-bag. It's easier said than done and all these poor-man's tricks require time and finding various materials to realize this idea.

*

Another funny thing is that I am completely mystified by how sleeping-bags are supposed to work. The one I have feels a bit like a baby blanket, but it doesn't keep me especially warm unless it's already quite warm outside. Which is kind of ridiculous, because I am actually worried about colder nights - in warm weather you hardly need any sleeping bags at all, I would say. So I am going to take a thin wool blanket with me - I certainly hope the goddam bag will at least keep the warmth from the wool if it can't produce any by itself. But I am not even sure of that, because polyester is a lousy heat-keeper in sweaters and I don't see how it's gonna be any different for a sleeping-bag.
In the end, the only thing I can count on, it seems, is that this mystic bag would keep the humidity out - I don't know if it will do that but if not, then I don't see what's the point of having a sleeping bag at all :-0

The sleeping bags I used to know were pretty fat with filling - they were heavy and this very heaviness garantied some warmth. But when you get a bag that is light as a feather, what on earth can you expect from it? That's where I cease to understand. I saw a very thin light bag in the store filled with some ultra termal fiber - it was supposed to work at -5C and it cost around $100. But the only way I was going to believe this, would be when I got inside and immediately started "feeling the heat". This thin bag didn't feel like that at all. So I am totally mystified with these things so far - I don't understand how this works.

*

On the other hand, I am terrifically impressed with the soft nylon convertible-pants that I got from second-hand store the other day ($4 compared to min $25 on sale if new). They're super-light in hot weather and keep warm when it gets frisky - here too I don't really understand how this can be. The sturdy cotton short I got at the same time feels heavier and yet doesn't get me as warm compared to these far lighter pants... I am mystified.

*

Perhaps the thing about polyester sleeping bags is that not only you have to generate your own heat but you also need some additional liner inside - to creat a warm cocoon inside the bag which it will then keep for you (theoretically). The bag itself won't really let you warm up. So the wool-blanket idea has to work. I don't have a mat to put under the bag but I will take some sturdier plastic sheet with me, just to keep ground humidity off. The ground is actually not too cold in summer but it gets really damp on frisky nights and that makes for some cold touch.

*

In any case, I think the main problem will turn out to be cold feet in the morning dew - I already tried my sneakers on such a morning and it wasn't fun. Even wool socks don't work with these canvas shoes because rubber is so close to the foot, I think.

Shoes have always been a problem for me - good shoes are too expensive and bad shoes are a torture. I've looked at sports sneakers that everybody wears but I wonder about those little air-holes - how waterproof can they be? I am used to leather shoes - which have no holes since leather lets the foot breath and absorbs moisture and they can be very waterproof too. At the army surplus store the guy was selling used army boots for a hundred bucks a pair - used shoes for such a price. I was surprised but the shoes did look impressive - he told me they were both water and fire-proof. Of course I will not be able to get that kind of stuff but this is what I would prefer over sports sneakers. Perhaps I will get exceptionally lucky and find them in a second-hand store one fine day. Not something I would count on however.

What I like about such boots is that you can wear them like hell - it's all-terrain shoes, you can kick stones with them and let them get scratched and walk in water and mud and not worry about killing the leather. Something you can't really do with fine shoes found in most stores.

*

Basically, I will need to look into this question more closely because my lifestyle has gradually changed ever since I stopped working yet all my clothing comes from a different era, so to speak - most of it is unsuitable for my current needs. I don't wear the long winter coat from that time because now I bike in winter - so I wear a small down jacket I got from a garage sale. It's too small for me but I simply have no other choice so I wear it regardless and look like an overgrown kid in it. It's too small to be fully warm so I can't really go out when temps get too low. The situation with winter shoes is also getting bad because my city shoes got worn out already from indiscriminate use and all the winter muck that gets on them when biking, so I will need to buy another pair before I freeze my toes out of service this winter. I've been wanting to find a thick wool sweater with a neck - sailor style - and I only ever see it in men's wear and it's usually either too big or out of price (usually both) so I don't think I will ever get anything remotely similar. And so on and so forth.

Women's clothing is pitifully inadequate for my taste - there is always this sad tendency to make things fancy and intricate which is perhaps supposed to make the body look attractive, but in the end it's not form but fashion that makes the rules. And for some reason women's fashion never seems to coincide with either practicality or comfort. Such basic features are to be found in men's wear exclusively - if you want something that will still be wearable 10 years from now, forget women's wear.

This is something interesting, actually - this obsession with fashion and latest style. It expresses a certain system of values that impacts on taste and the concept of beauty. A woman dressed to the latest fashion appears more attractive but this is not because the style of clothing is any good - more often than not it's actually pretty awful. Nevertheless, latest fashion expresses participation in current life and the desire to be attractive - and it is this mental concept that makes that little beaming bitch wearing that awful ugly stuff look so beautiful and so desirable: it's the fact that she wears it and not *what* it is she wears. The ridiculous side of this can be observed in the way all these clothes go out of style practically in no time, and if that same beauty wears that same stuff a year later she looks "terrible" - that is, she looks terribly out of fashion.

Men's wear, except for sex-crazed teens and rabid socialites, is much more conservative and is based on different values. Unfortunately for me and my place in the world, I like those values quite a bit more than the above-described madness. I would wear classic straight-leg jeans all my life if I could find them in my size whenever I need to. But I can't - it went "out of fashion" for women so long ago I have to go to the men's section where everything is usually too big so I end up wearing my jeans to the thread instead of replacing them in good time. I can't find basic stuff my size or fit, that's one of the reasons I hate shopping - not only lack of money but this endless difficulty of finding what I want. I don't fit well into this world - and it doesn't catter to me.

*

Perhaps if I were about a hundred times more energetic, I could hunt down the kind of stuff I need - but I consider this sort of effort excessive for this sort of objective. Clothes are a basic necessity and I am not gonna spend my life running around looking for basics. It's like toothpaste: would you spend weeks and months looking for some toothpaste you like? I hope not.

As a result I look like a bum - combination of lack of cash and lack of product. Which is really bizarre since this world is over-brimming with "product". But I don't correspond and have to suffer the consequences. Maybe I am just crazy, come to think of it - I can't compromise.

*

Great - I vulcanized my prestine nylon trousers with a cigarette... Already. And so it goes for everything else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004



This type of talk is pretty useless - it's better to act, because doing things is actually a way of thinking, which is much more complete and effective than talking.

Logos has a place in life - but it's rather small.




Battling myself.

I should be focused on my trip, yet little things keep interfering and affecting my mood - instead of well-channeled energy I am constantly battling various inner detours and slacking. This is not good and it's basically my fault - I know very well that when I am really working on something, nothing can detract me, I actually breeze past all the obstacles because they don't matter in view of the more inspiring goal.

I suppose I am not inspired enough - not keeping a straight line, letting myself be distracted, losing focus. This usually means that there is something about my project that is not right and that I prefer not to see what it is - instead I simply let myself be led away, avoiding taking heed.

This is likely fear - not of various difficulties but of myself, of how I might react to this whole thing: that I might not enjoy any of it, that I might not be able to free myself from all my endless anxieties, and the sense of futility, and doubts. I wish I could be like a child awaiting christmas - any project worth doing has to carry a measure of joy, be it challenge or just pleasure. There is no point having sex if you don't enjoy it - likewise with this trip: there is no point if I don't believe I can experience joy.

The greatest fear is that I will have to meet myself on this trip - and I am not sure I want this to happen. I haven't been able to *desire* to travel for so long because travel means you are alone with yourself all the time - I used to love travelling, but after a certain point I completely lost the ability to enjoy myself and in the same breath I lost the taste for travels. I am trying to overcome this but half of it is forced - yet there is at least a partial revival of desire and I have to help it somehow.

Lack of energy, laziness, anxieties - all these are dead things inside me not wanting to resurrect or clear out. I am partly a corpse and I well know it. This corpse is trying to come back to life - it doesn't look pretty, to say the least.

Broken will is not a symbolic expression - it means exactly what it says. The first sign is inability to desire. The next sign is inability to go along with desire whenever it finally shows up. The last sign is a series of tortuous jerks when I try to harness my will and actions to my desire. The whole process is completely and utterly fucked up and I am not even sure my being able to overcome this once will have any positive effect in the aftermath - maybe I'll just revert to my former state, no matter what effort I would have exerted in the meantime.

One glaring thing is that this corpse is very reluctant to be revived. I don't know what this fear is based on, why it's all so incredibly difficult. I don't know how to describe what hopelessness means and what hope is made of - and why there is such a war between the two. I don't even know how it is that I got broken so bad to begin with...

All my life has been a long struggle against myself - not some outside forces but my very own self, the very thing I was supposed to rely on in those glorified struggles "against the world". Therefore my life has been a waste and will continue to be entirely useless as long as I will keep so busy with this totally meaningless battle. I wish I could turn away for a moment and get to breath freely - but no, I can't possibly have that kind of luck.

So voila - I am back where I started, fighting the very same imaginary dreads. There is just no end to this, it would seem. "Self-confidence" is a word that doesn't mean anything because it points to a meaning it can't possibly describe. What does it really mean to have self-confidence or even simply faith? What does it mean to have a strong will? Or how about: to be free to do all you can? I don't have that freedom, that's for sure. I don't even know how to get there, let alone what it is. Those whose will is intact don't ask these questions - those who ask can't do a thing about it.




How to deal with bitchy types.

Today I moved a half-step further towards pacifying my anxieties regarding this trip, so I just went and exchanged the blue piece of tarp against a much bigger green one - which I will just need to cut to size, I guess. But the idea of a bright blue tent kept getting me worried and the most important to me now is peace of mind - so I essentially went to buy some peace of mind.

Unfortunately, I again ran into the bitchy clerk who gave me shit the last time about the sleeping bag - I think she has a negative gut-reaction to my type of people, since there simply are no rational reasons for so much rage and venom. I did significantly better this time and cut her short, but still felt some anger when she kept mumbling some of her paranoid shit to the supervisor who processed my items - just as she did last time. I thought of making a complaint in writing against this mad-bitch employee, but decided not to waste time and energy. If I run into her again, I'll do it then - as it's almost certain she will try to give me shit whenever she sees me.

*

This made me think back to other people who hated me for no particular reason - interestingly enough those were usually women. I had felt random animosity from men but it was never so bitchy. I think I provoke hatred in certain women because it is so obvious I don't correspond to their idea of how a woman should be and behave - my very aspect signals to them that I hold some of their dearest values in total contempt. A comic-relief example of this dynamic can be found in the "Big Lebowsky" movie where Dude Lebowksy, a former-hippie turned unemployed-bum, is confronted with the Big Lebowsky, a rich conservative businessman who's in fact a total loser. The latter tries hard to snub Dude just because he can't possibly get any "due respect" from him - it's a beautifully funny scene.

I suppose I simply have to learn to take these things easy - it's ennoying, but it's not worth getting angry about. The problem is that I never expect to be hated for no reason - maybe I should just keep it in mind and be prepared when this happens instead of letting my emotions be triggered. This requires a certain measure of reactive aggressiveness or an ability to really take it lightly and not react to bitchiness at all.




Blogger has done something to itself, yet again - I can't use my blogging tools anymore. But the navbar is not any worse than ad banners.




No go as yet.

Well, things turned different from what I planned but I am not deterred as yet.

One strange occurence is that I got so tired on Sunday I practically couldn't stay awake today - I am still tired.

This exhaustion is somewhat surprising - it seems purely physical but I think it's mental fatigue mostly, a sort of accumulated result of all the inner struggles and anxiety I went through recently. Whenever I put pressure on myself and feel prevented or blocked, I get exhausted from useless expense of energy that goes nowhere. This may be a dubious explanation, but I have to wonder how it is that I got so tired doing practically nothing - on Sunday I spent some time fabulating about my plans, then went to see my parents to ask them to feed the cat, then I went for a walk with my mother... stayed late and came back home around 1am. I don't see how such a day can produce such extreme exhaustion unless it's mental stuff. One reason might be that I found my parents in a pretty bad nervous state because of whatever problems, my mother especially. I let her talk into me and it is just possible that I got loaded with all her anxieties and bad vibes just from absorbing her mood - she seemed relieved from talking, so I guess I got loaded instead and unwittingly. This might sound somewhat esoteric because people are not supposed to notice such obscure stuff, but it's an old story between me and my mother - everything happens way beyond consciousness and translates into reactive moods and telepathic dreams. It's hard to articulate perhaps, but it's really not all that hard to notice.

Anyway - the end result is that I got deathly tired. If I got so tired on my bike trip, I wouldn't be able to pedal the next day. Maybe I am so terrifically out of shape I might collapse from a few hours on the bike? Who knows...
It certainly suits my parents well, because they are busy until the end of this week - the later I go, the better for them.

*

But instead of just sleeping through the day as I pretty much felt like doing, I still went out and did some mischief.

First I wanted to find some green tarp but this is just something that can't be found, it seems. So I compensated by "taking" some things from the store - got a pair of biking gloves and the wheel-truer tool, on a whim. It is pretty certain that if I were able to find the tarp, I would have paid for it gladly and I would not have thought of getting or "taking" anything else.

I am strange thief because I do it out of vengence and thus with a limpid consciousness and stunning boldness - I don't even try to hide and don't feel afraid of getting caught. If I feel afraid, that's when it really becomes stealing - and I prefer not to do it then.

Then I followed my luck and visited a previously unknown second-hand shop which proved somewhat better than the Salvation Army one - got a pair of light nylon pants that can be transformed into a pair of shorts (precisely the sort of nifty stuff I can never buy new as it's usually way too expensive for me) and also found a good shirt that should do the job on a frisky evening. The advantage over Salvation Army is that they don't charge sale taxes - which makes the whole thing even cheaper.

All of which compensates for a day essentially lost through this absurd fatigue so I am taking it easy: things will get going when the time is good, I just need to wait.

*

Timing is a very interesting concept. It is intimately related to the notion of luck. What it means essentially is that there is a whole system of the world out there, an innumerable mass of unknown events and facts over which you can have no control - you never know what awaits you out there, how you will fit into this unknown system. No amount of planning or preparedness can over-rule the basic notion of "right time right place" - when you are delayed or deflected in your plans by unmarked chance events and situations, this is all part of how luck works. Luck is part of your plan - it works with you and you have to feel it and be aware you're not alone in your plannings. That's how you know when "the time is good" to go ahead. It's basically intuition - there is nothing definitive that one might
say about it, except that sometimes things don't feel right and sometimes they do.

This can be observed in the above-mentioned acts of stealing - absence of fear and complete certainty of doing it right essentially garanties that it will indeed go right. You feel the situation even though you cannot possibly know all that is there and that can happen - theoretically you can always get caught or run into difficulty, but it doesn't happen. Interestingly enough, when you don't listen to this intuition and only go with your intellect that gives you a theoretical reading of the situation ("I never got caught before, why should I get caught now even if it doesn't feel right for some reason") you are basically playing with fire - things can turn against you in a minute, you are truly unprotected and walking on a very shaky ground. Of course, this is impossible to explain theoretically - because you don't necessarily get caught and thus there are no hard facts to attest just how dubious a situation you've just escaped. Theories work with facts only - but facts are only a manifestation of certain unseen goings-on between you and the world. In other words, reason can't grasp luck - but you would be very unreasonable to ignore it just because you can't understand how it works exactly.

Another example is of course road accidents - they also happen to people who follow rules. But rules don't include situations when people lose control of their car through some split-second mishap: you can ban all cell-phones in the world, and ban all alcohol and drugs, and all people might stop running red-lights etc etc - and yet accidents will continue to happen. Accidents would happen even if drivers were not human but super-logical unemotional cyborgs who would follow all possible rules and proper-actions to a T, like that dreadful bore of a cyborg from the old Star Trek series. Perhaps the number of dead cyborgs would be less than that of human drivers, but the notion of accidents will perdure regardless of all the reasoned perfection. As a matter of fact, it may very well happen that there would be more dead cyborgs than humans - because cyborgs have no intuition at all and thus can't cooperate with the unknown part of the world, the one that obeys not logic but chance.

*

Now I should really go to bed, this post is getting too bizarre.

Sunday, August 15, 2004



I am checking maps and forums to see how local cyclists deal with going between cities etc.

One thing that is clear is that there is a tremendous loss of time when travelling in an urban area - due to various obstacles and congested traffic, plus the ever-present possibility of getting lost. This is why it is such a pain to get out of the city and especially suburbs - once you're out, riding becomes much more linear and you put in more mileage. As some level-head guy on a forum put it: mileage feels different depending where those kms are.

*

What's more I just learned that the suburban train I was hoping to catch in order to avoid the tedious metropolitan outskirts doesn't accept bikes :-0 It's absurd, given that very few people use it outside of rush hours - whenever I see it passing it's nearly empty... The official reason given is that the goddam train doesn't have "safety installations" to transport bikes. Neither does the subway - so what?

I guess common sense takes a leave-of-absence when everybody is constantly threatening to sue whoever in the law court if they fall on their head and their bike falls over them - this is north america, everybody sues everybody else almost constantly. As a result, everybody is obsessed with "safety". One consequence of which is that there are so many "safety rules" you can barely move.




Oh yes, the Olympics are on.

Perhaps I will not live to the next games, so it's probably one of those rare events that should mark my existence. Well... the problem is - I don't care which country wins and I find that I don't understand most of what they're doing out there. It's nice to watch speedy swimmers, for instance - but I know nothing about this sport and I never understand why some win and others don't. They all look strong - yet there are all those technical details that I don't get.

Basically, Olympics make sense only to those who care for national medals or those who like to watch beautiful strong people exert themselves. And kids - because kids can still become olympians.




Whatever.

Went to shops today - what a goddam boring business. The main purpose was to buy a rainsuit. Instead of buying, I just "took" it. All the stuff was out of packages, some of it ripped, sizes not matching - it looked like a great garbage dump of used vynil. I managed to find a vest my size but had to take whatever pants were still in good shape, too big for me but I had no choice. Paying for this mess would have been too generous - so I literally took it and walked out.

Was also looking for light waterproof overshoes, couldn't find any. I suppose there are some in specialized stores but I would not be able to afford it, so there is no point going there. Will have to manage with plastic bags, I guess.

I suppose my trip will be rather short - a week or so. It depends how it will go, but I have zero experience and would rather take Ken Kifer's advice about making test trips first to get an idea of how this works and what to expect out there. I was initially thinking of taking one of the intercity bike routes that this province keeps building into a whole network, but after taking a close look at what it is, I am not sure I want to follow such a path all the way. The problem is that these things are over-managed and thoroughly commercialized - there are tons of bikers and overpriced rest-stops that you are supposed to buy from, because that's how the idea of such routes is sold in the first place. Basically, it looks just like any such path in some big park in town, except that it's longer. While it's indeed safe to ride there, I can't say that I love these things - it's very isolating. You feel very much like a car going down a highway: you go fast and the pavement is nice and smooth, but you are completely cut off from the landscape, in fact you are not supposed to mess with the landscape, it's only there to be seen but not touched. The very opposite of what I long for.

Another funny thing that I better think twice about is that north of the city it's all very-very hilly. Basically, it's the Laurentians - a mountain chain. Heh. I thought I could perhaps make it all the way to the big provincial park in the north but on the other hand - what the fuck will I do there without any real camping gear except a sleeping bag? Not much, I would say. Not to mention that I might not be able to get there because of too many hills too hard to climb. Plus I can't hike in the woods for the basic reason that I don't have proper shoes (silly as this might sound), not to mention lack of gear to cook my own food etc. I am not going hiking - I am going on a bike trip, which basically means: ride on the road during the day, sleep in the bushes at night, and buy food on the way. That's more like picknicking than camping. So I guess I will have to postpone any wilderness ideas for now.

*

I've been tinkering with the bike and found out that the front fork is crooked - not surprisingly. I have a pile of garbage wheels I can choose from to fit on the bike. I was able to find a more or less correct one but it doesn't fit as well as the wobblier kind I've been using because the hub is shorter which reveals the crookedness of the fork. Very amusing.

On the other hand, I found a couple of generators for front and back lights which I might want to fit on the bike for some night-riding on dark roads. I am not sure I will have time to get all this in place before monday - I should have bothered with this earlier as I won't have time to test these things before going. For instance, I can well fit the big front-light on - but it will take away an important hand-position on the handle-bar. I know I need this position on longer rides, when I get tired and need to relax. That's why testing is important - improvising and getting around such things also takes time.

*

Basically, my real resolve to go ahead with this trip only occured a couple of days ago - ever since July I've been unsure about the whole thing and the resulting procrastination was an expression of this lack of will. The hardest thing for me is not so much to do something - it's to really decide I can and want to do it, whatever it is. Once I get over doubts and fears, I finally start acting as if it were a done deal - problems get resolved and obstacles appear unimportant and incidental.

I don't know why I have to struggle so much to get to the point of action - big lack of self-confidence, I suppose.

*

Today I had a vision: saw a group of youths in very dirty ragged clothes - artfully ragged and dirty. Those are the new hippies, in a way - people who patch their old pants with colorful quilt patches and make sure not to wash their stuff so it gets to look really dirty. But they don't look very poor all the same - they just want to *look* poor.

That's phoney (and funny). And it's done in group - because it's a game.

*

I am falling off my feet. Good-night.





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