The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his heaven-
All's right with the world.

Robert Browning
Spring Song

Two years to the day before he resigned his big chair in the Pantheon, panamaus wrote a daylog with the message "Expand your circle", and that's a piece of advice that I've never forgotten.

A year ago, when I was struggling with everything, I read "When in doubt, choose wings not shoes", and that kind of thinking has turned my whole life around.

On a recent poll that asked "What keeps bringing you back to E2?", I was the one solitary person to respond "I want to make friends here". More than three years since I first discovered this wonderful tribe of brilliant savages, and I still feel like a wallflower.

Yesterday, for the first time, I decided to swallow my impossible shyness and made plans to crash the big 4th of July gathering. This will be my first field encounter with actual noders in real reality.

I'm terrified, naturally. In a good way, though. A good way. One might say "terribly excited." I am so looking forward to meeting ccunning, karma debt and everyone who will be there.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

e.e. cummings

Sorry for the sketchy sentence fragments. This is the first thing I've sat down and written in months-- except for the odd journal entry of the spiral-bound variety, which doesn't count since no one can see them but me-- and I feel rusty as hell.

A couple of years ago, thanks almost entirely to you guys, I felt like I was finally getting a handle on this "writing" thing. Now, after a long stretch of distracted decline, and with the ever-lovin' bar creeping upward all the while, I feel like I'm smack back at word one again.

"Who's on first,
What's on second,
I Don't Know's on third--"

"That's what I'm tryin' to find out!"

Abbott and Costello

Yesterday, for the first time, I had jp add my name to EMAR, and thus connected with a clink of cold finality the person I want to be (my wispy anonymous dramatic persona) with the person I actually am (picture in my god-damn high school yearbook).

Even the address itself is a first for me. At age 23, this is my first apartment-- the one I'll be telling my bored grandkids about, someday-- up on Round Hill in Waterford, MI surrounded by beautiful Michigan forests and lakes now full of melting snow. 2005 will be my first year living on my own. Free as a bird, and all that jazz.

i thank you god for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Cummings again

And just to drop one more big fat announcement before I go...

Today, I've finally crystallized an idea for what I'll likely be doing in 2006: I'm going to take a walk.


Today, on my lunch-break from my boring tech job, I sent thirty U.S. dollars to the Appalachian Trail Conference for an official overview map of the AT and a copy of Trail Guide #111, the trailbook covering the first 235 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to the Great Smoky Mountains.

You can probably guess where I'm heading with this, but that's just the bare beginnings. The full plan, as it exists only in my crazed imaginings, is to set my affairs in order and wave goodbye to the grid completely, thru-hiking the AT in the spring, from Springer to Katahdin, and then-- and then!-- as a geographical bookend, riding the Trans-Can railway 3000 miles across the wide back of Canada, to hike the Pacific Crest Trail down from the north end in the fall.

Nearly nobody hikes the PCT north-to-south, and there are probably only a few dozen people on Earth who have walked the AT and PCT back-to-back. According to the PCTA, fewer people have thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail than have ascended Mt. Everest. I like that.

Of course, I doubt I'd be able to make it all the way to Mexico that year. Even I know that trying to hike the high Sierras with winter coming on would be a recipe for disaster. But I could always winter-over in Oregon. I was born there, after all.

Much much more on this later, I can pretty much guarantee.

Come on out
Don't just sit there catatonic
I'm feeling supersonic
A warm wind is sweeping by
The sun's full in the sky
And there's no way of knowing,
No way to know
How long it will last

The Gandharvas
First Day of Spring

The best continental breakfast in the Southern Hemisphere
or what to do with 24 hours in the south island of New Zealand.

When I was summoned to New Zealand for a month by work, I attempted to make contact with the indigenous noder population and found Heisenberg to be quite friendly (if not precisely indigenous), positively welcoming would be not inaccurate.

The Britnoders trumped me by claiming the chap for a few weeks but once he got back I took a day off work and a few days ago I headed down the coast to see what Oamaru was like.

There was good food, wine and later there were Penguins. I had seen Blue Penguins before in Akoroa but these were a lot closer. Unfortunately it was also night and we weren't allowed to take pictures so Diotina doesn't get any more penguin pics. Heisenberg's better half works as a guide at the colony sometimes so even though late we were ushered in to the vip seats gratis.

We later went out to a cool little place called The Penguin Club (which has a website) and listened to jam night for a bit before heading back to chat and sleep.

Possibly the highlight was the fantastic continental spread they did for breakfast which certainly put the continental hotels I've stayed in to shame. We swapped music the old-fashioned way, walked on the beach and finally the time came and I was dropped back in town.

It was an enjoyable 24 hours and it was good to have noder company.

Now for the noder-meet.

Fresh Sushi From The Persian Gulf

Some background: Corporal K____, sometimes known as Caveman K____, is a big burly blonde dude from Minnesota, real into hunting and fishing. Especially fishing. He's the kind of guy whose jovial slap on the back will knock the wind out of you, who's constantly gut-checking you out of genuine affection. He also likes jumping, up and down, from perch to perch, off of things, just jumping in general.

At the Haditha Dam, in our off time, while I was reading or whatever, and the rest of the Marines were working out or whatever, K____ took the tiny fishing kit he brought with him, not much more than a length of fishing line and a small hook, and some meat from the chow hall and caught a few carp out of the reservoir. If we'd had time and permission, I'm sure he would have built a fire and cooked it, too.

K____ and W_______ have been going fishing off the little pier that stretches out off the beach a little ways whenever they find time and had caught quite a bit: some cod-looking things, some flying fish, and yesterday, a cuttlefish.

They had pictures of it and were showing me, and when I told them it looked tasty, they bet me I wouldn't eat it.

"Fuck you, I'll eat that shit raw," I told them.

So I stopped by the pier today and sure enough, K____ had managed to catch another cuttlefish, a weird striped one that had inked all over them and everything. As they watched in giddy excitement, I cut off one of the tentacles, washed it off with a bottle of water, bit off the little suction-cuppy end, chewed and swallowed.

It could've used a little cocktail sauce or something, but it was alright. Though they were kinda freaked out and scared, I eventually coaxed each of them to try it (by questioning his courage or calling him a 'pussy', you can pretty much get a Marine to do anything), and they agreed it wasn't bad.

I have a fond memory of when I was a young boy, in Korea, walking down the beach with my uncle. There was a little stand there, where these little octopi that were caught right off the beach were cleaned and gutted right in front of you and served chopped up, but still wriggling. I remember a sense of wonder and awe, not fear or disgust.

I guess I never did learn to be afraid or disgusted by little things like that, like so many people do, but I wish I could call back that sense of wonder, and hold it like I hold that memory, to recognize all the wondrous things that must happen all around me every day.

The fog rolled in today, grey, thick, wet. It was like moving through a world of ghosts; other people were shapeless blurs, lost at the edge of my vision-- then gone, as if they had never existed at all.

I passed most of the hour or so I spent walking on the beach thinking about Deep Ones surfacing from the ocean-- looking a little like rubber-suited rejects from Creature from the Black Lagoon-- and dragging wet and miserable tourists lost in the mist back into the briny deep with them as I stood by and waved. That, and writing "Hastur" in large and easily-readable letters in the sand.

I wonder if I'll dream of squids when I go to sleep?

Wildcat Morning

*Beep Beep*
*Beep Beep*
*Beep Beep*

"Damn that alarm is annoying." I think to myself as I'm brought out of my sleep. Something about a pinata keeps bouncing through my head, and I'm not quite sure why.

I reset the alarm on my cell phone. Its sort of like pushing the snooze button, but takes a lot more brain power and tends to help to wake me up in steps.

This time it was beating up the first lady, while inside a Circle K on the Death Star. I remembered it easily.

*Beep Beep*
*Beep Beep*
*Beep Beep*

7:20am. I needed to be out the door for no particular reason but to get to class on time by 7:30. My allergies are killing me and I'm in a rotten mood. That tends to happen when you stay up too late playing Gran Turismo 4.

Shit, Shower, Shave. Grab my keys, grab my laptop, (as I know I'll be noding at some point today) and speed out the door. 7:35. I'm cutting it close.

I turn the radio on in the car, it starts playing the current CD and the techno beats of "The Robot Theme Song" begin echoing through the cab. I'm not really in an aquabats mood, so I pop out Myths and legends vol. 2 and insert a mix which I'm sure contains Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Leaving the parking garage, I'm accosted by a Gideon. "Miniature Bible for you?" I shake my head with disgust. I still fail to see the point, if they really want to make a difference in the community why don't they stop buying these tiny fucking Bibles that only contain one or two useless books and start volunteering to send their funds to the countless homeless that have overtaken the streets of Tucson?

My mind continues to play over these thoughts, over how those old men would do better to don an apron in a soup kitchen rather than those silly blazers armed with cardboard boxes full of small, green Bibles.

Its about this time that I have arrived at my first class. Music appreciation, or as I call it "snooze alarm part 2." Its just sort of sad that it takes me about thirty minutes of walking-parking-walking to get to my next hour-long nap. Today we will be discussing what "rhythm" is.

"Professor? Wait, I don't get it... could you explain syncopation again?"

I wake up with a puddle of drool on my keyboard. That's right, I was supposed to stay awake and check out e2 during this class. The joys of wireless can no longer sustain my consciousness.

I am awoken by the magic words: "I know its early, but I'll see you all on Friday." I pack up my laptop without responding to the countless AIM messages flashing on my screen and head for my favorite part of the day. Maybe soon I'll get some noding done. I already know I want to write something comical about that bunch of Gideons occupying every corner on campus.

I trapse to Yavapai. I arrive at the front door just as she is coming out of it. "Hey kiddo, how are you feeling?"

"I'm officially sick"

"Oh... I'm sorry to hear that, what can I do to make it better?" Truthfully, I'm not 100% sorry. I know that if she's sick, I have an excuse to cook for her more often, the Union simply doesn't supply sufficient food to make one well again. (sidenote - sorry if that comes as a suprise to you, but you should know better. I love making your face light up like that.)

The conversation turns to other topics, and our pace is quickened as she is late for class. By the time we have reached our destination I'm winded. I really need to get into shape. I have no class for three hours, and an hour to kill while she is learning spanish. Maybe I'll get some noding done.

I decide instead that its high time to hold down the floor, so I lay with my head on my laptop bag, a bum, just like the ones that those Gideons need to help. Its not that the floor is exceedingly comfortable, but I sleep well. I don't move much for fear of losing the small bit of comfort I've found on the tile floor. Soon she's waking me up, having exited her class wondering if I want to grab something to eat with her.

I'm not a fan of Existentialism. I hated I ♥ huckabees and have never really had an interest in the feild, but I suppose thats what our lunch conversation could be qualified as. Humans are simply a complex chemical reaction. Reactions can be defined by formulas with inputs yeilding specific outputs. With quite a great deal of theorizing, you can come to the conclusion that without a god there is no free will, but that is news for another time.

The trip back to the dorm was standard, as was the zoning out while playing Civilization 3 while she did her homework. Amazingly her bed failed to eat me.

Before long, noon had rolled around, and it was time for her to make her way to Chemistry. I've got an hour before class maybe I'll get some noding done.

Sorry, but I wanted to try an existentialist look at noding...

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