Monday, December 29, 2003

Suggestions to the Slacker Generation
by Len Bracken

Humans are congenitally allergic to work - they don't want to work whenever they have a chance not to work.

The sacrosanct notion of work is the cause of most of humanity's woes. Never trust the priests of work because they've poisoned their minds with it. For example, the quantity of economically necessary work declines, yet politicians and economists tell us that the only way to end unemployment is with more useless work. Why couldn't more people do much less?

The invention of workerism gradually, and even then only partially, subverted our natural inclination to be lazy and our disinclination to work.

The ugly brown dye of work spills across this miserable civilization, saturating the fabric of everyday life, day after back-breaking day.

The masses martyr themselves with work.

Work surrounds us and lays siege to our souls.

Going to work is like hurling yourself into an abyss.

The time has come to prepare the sacred cow of work for slaughter.

There are three types of labor - wage work, domestic labor and autonomous activity, the latter being (in most cases) exempt from charges of drudgery and slavery.

Slaves feel tired just thinking of all the work they've yet to do.

Many waters cannot quench our thirst for laziness, nor floods drown it.

Creativity constrains the return of work; be creative and put severe constraints on work.

Laziness is a comedy in which we can all play a part, a veritable field of sunblown flowers where the unruly colors of the universe dance with the wind.

Fling your work schedule into the river of time.

The legends of paradise teach us to curse work, reminding us that laziness is the essential goal of humanity.

All power to zeroworker councils - impose a strict regime of laziness!

The right to work is the right to misery and always implies the possibility of the right not to work.

Now more than ever, we've got to fight the measures designed to make those who refuse to work, work.

Laziness is the source of all virtue.

Work is the graveyard of bad intentions.

Authentic humans feel degraded by those who preach the religion of work.

Pay your debts with an effigy of your boss.

Wage labor perpetuates the archaic system whereby armies and courts consume the profits of overproduction.

In a ton of work, there's not an ounce of love.

Work or perish - what choice is that? I'd rather die than work.

"Elite" workers are allied with bosses against fellow humans who are either incapable or, praise them, idle.

Work inhibits the noble passions of humanity.

Workers betray their natural instincts to be lazy and lose their vitality - stop being workers and never work again.

Laziness is the mother of passion, a veritable bed of lust.

Disgrace to the proletariat that gives into work.

Work isn't a task, it's torture.

The plague of work, the bulimia of work, the homicide of work - give work its proper attributes.

Work is a ball and chain.

Work brings dishonor to your house.

No pity for those tormented by a passion for work.

Labor only sustains life by stunting it. Tell me how much you work and I'll tell you what you are.

The only place to contemplate the wisdom of humanity is on the throne of laziness.

Now we have a system where most work and few are lazy. The rejection of work is the basis of sub-proletarian revolution, so take victories over work where you can get them.

Put your best efforts into laziness and prepare for the coming inaction.

Work for full unemployment.

The culture of productivism employes work for social discipline and control - in a word, domination. Look around you in the subway - you share the world with masses of domestic slaves on the way to, or recovering from, their latest paroxysm of work.

Work is long; the boss a beast.

Instead of the penitentiary of the salary, we want guaranteed social incomes, in addition and unrelated to, the number of hours we work.

Kick the work habit.

Death to Malthus, religion and the dogma of work.

Laziness is the religion of the XXIst Century.

Worship the oracle of laziness.

Every prison is built with work.

Inhibit, as best you can, the vice of work.

Workers and consumers are the miserable servants of machines and their endless demands.

Because of the dogma of workerism, unemployment is a problem rather than the boon to humanity that it should be.

The tragedy is that those who do work, work so much they are no longer human.

Those who don't work are reduced to a miserable existence amidst the spectacle of plenty.

Work is not the continuation of divine creation, rather a contest of life and death whereby work triumphs over wisdom, and (vice versa).

Sacrifice work for the sake of life (or at least snarl at your boss and give him the finger).

The system is bent on economizing time, but it's afraid to give free time to people.

The ethics of effort and competition are ultimately rewarded with the demolition of solidarity.

The seeds of universal solidarity are found in the process of taking time back from work.

According to the priests of work, everything can become a job. The monetizing of all activity disguises work as leisure (and vice versa) and creates a society of impoverished servants, many of whom are still without work.

For the Greeks, to work is to be enslaved by necessity.

Bad workers can't be controlled by management, especially when they're ready to pretend to be loyal employees and otherwise lie to the enemy.

Laziness and hedonism prevail over productivism and puritanism.

In other words, workerism is a pile of shit - only mad cocks get on it and crow.

Freedom begins where work ends.
Anti-work, pro-community
by Jan Lundberg

I propose the word "community" as a verb. When someone communities she or he does service for the greater good. Such activity may be to restore a watershed to prevent erosion. In so doing, the person is helping oneself as well.

Work is a noun and verb that has characterized civilization to a T. This dominant civilization, stretching back to Mesopotamian pre-empires, features lots of work and worse: slavery, basically a worse form of work. Or, working to kill: making armaments or certain industrial toxins.

Money and similar forms of exchange are not limited to civilization, but their domination is found just in civilization. In non-Western civilization and quasi-civilization there are or were other forms of wealth-manifestation, such as how much one shared, as in the native American potlatch.

Back in the day v. today
Prior to this cultureís civilized development, and in "primitive" societies that still exist, work as understood today is unknown. People went about their daily lives without specializing into types who only did one thingósuch that others fed them. Each person or household participated in finding and producing food as a daily activity in a cooperative, tribal effort. Being a professional was apparently unknown for the longest time in our speciesí history, but there were always masters of certain arts and crafts.

Villages close to the land have roles differentiating peopleís special functions to a degree, but there arenít whole segments of society in servitude to others. But modern servants are the mass of humanity, and can most often be seen comprising the daily commute.

It ainít voluntary; a worker doesnít have much choice but to do so much work (and commuting) that one can easily have no concept how to build his or her shelter, for example. Day in, day out, we face drudgery in order to bring in the dollarsójust to keep dry, fed, and quiet or distracted. Watching videos can be provided almost universally, as a great control tool or pacifier. People either accept this offer as their "lot in life," or they opt for dominating others or some other means of skillfully bringing in more money than average. The Third Way is supposedly reserved for dreamers or layabouts, but that could include you if youíre unconventional enough.

Rich and poor
The work and pacification (or diversion) lasts a lifetime, until one can no longer physically work. Or, until one wins the lottery or gets rich some other way. Comfortable retirement is not a given. There may exist a semblance of equal opportunity (not equality!) in the U.S. where anyone can own a luxury car no matter what oneís origins, but the rich are a tiny minority. They are also out of control and irresponsible. They are a symptom of the culture, so that their replacementówith other individuals whoíd become richówould not solve the problem. But "the rich and the poor" is not the whole subject of this essay.

Work, Work! Work, Work, Work, Work!

- The Animals: "We gotta get out of this place" (a popular song of 1965)

Working is almost always in service of the rich, in order to make a surplus beyond oneís own needs. It can be claimed that the poor benefit from the work as well, as in the distribution of "crumbs" or services available to one and all, such as prison and the military. What a coincidence: it is the non-rich who are in prison and the armed "services."

Public education, cheap oil, and other dreams
If one believes war is perfectly acceptable and necessary as a cost of civilization, then the pacifists must be anti-civilization. Be that as it may, there are other services or utilities that supposedly benefit everyone, such as educational institutions. But the fact is that these schools basically train workers, and the main major is wryly called "upward mobility."

With the end of cheap oil as of the 1970s, the easy entry into the middle class and upper-middle class no longer exists. Work has gotten longer, and few households can afford anymore a stay-at-home spouse or parent. It should be understood that cheap oil cannot be deemed as existing today when so many hidden costs and subsidies mask its real adjusted price.

People were taught a few decades ago that working people would eventually average a 20-hour work week. That bubble of propaganda and sci-fi hooey has been burst, but almost no one has reacted. The reason people increasingly doubt "progress" is that they know resources have been depleted, the land is increasingly all fenced or paved, and people have had to work more and more in order to buy less and less. The gap between the rich and poor has gotten to this: the U.S.ís top executive class earns 450 times the amount an average worker makes. Government is not about to change this relationship, and people arenít going to fight back until they feel hurt badly enough.

Alternative "working"
Today the "need" to work is pervasive, and understandably so. One needs food, one needs to earn money to go to college, one needs to pay for transportation, etc. And one who does not work enough, when that person, for example, has a child to support, is a person widely considered wrong or bad.

But those realities do not mean that there are not ways of cutting back on mind-numbing work thatís inefficient or too favorable to the boss. Nor does the necessary aspect of work today mean that the current system involving work is the only way to have a culture or society. How is it that sometimes there are no bosses, as in todayís affinity groups that, for example, save a stand of trees threatened by industry? Suffice to say that much of what is widely assumed today is questionable.

Community service can become an entire alternative system to capitalism and other unfair schemes that do not lift everyone to a better standard of living. By "standard of living," we should not consider only material measurements such as the proportion of the citizenry hooked up to electricity. And we must include other species, with whom we share the Earth, as the community. A standard of living that values any harm to the rest of lifeóthe environmentóis an unsustainable sham. Poor peoples may have no dishwashing machines, but spend more time with family. This does not benefit the owners of banks, so the International Monetary Fund undertakes to remake local economies to export the wealth or to create the demand and infrastructure to import dishwasher machines.

"Everyone Can Cut Potatoes" is the name of an essay by Solomon DeMontigny, a do-it-yourselfer activist and performing artist in Arcata, California. He started a bicycle-powered delivery service for his baking business. In his essay about everyone being able to help prepare a meal, his point was that we can cooperate and voluntarily have fun, while providing for our common needs.

If that sounds Utopian, he is at least right in keeping with village life where traditions hold sway and the society is healthyóand people act as one for the greater good. Solomon works, but he knows that it is so wasteful, when people are not voluntarily contributing freely if they are not liberated from forced labor. And in his regular job the learning period did not last long. He is now "sacrificing" in Americorps in order to attend Dellí Arte, the renowned theater school in Blue Lake.

A shining example of working for community instead of a wage is an activist in southern California devoting his life to spreading Permaculture and learning about sustainable living. He is taken care of even in this cold, cash-and-carry economy, because of his helpfulness, positive attitude in sharing his skills, and contributions to the community such as putting on seminars for the public.

Better than work
Many works have been written on community and anarchy, and many studies have been done on traditional societies whose peoples have been indigenous thousands of years. Analysis of the "work" factor has not been neglected. But almost never do the grade schools or the bastions of employmentónotably the mainstream pressóinform us that hunters and gatherers spend only a few hours a day a few days a week gathering food and setting up shelter. [Our Magazine Resources section has some references, but books are better on traditional cultures, and abound at libraries and used-book stores.]

One can easily confirm that there was no equivalent of "work" in languages separated from the dominant civilization of work. It is true that being a hunter and gatherer is not possible almost everywhere due to trashed ecosystems and too many humans. But this does not mean we should just keep on doing what we are doing in order to shop. There is work but there is the alternative form of it which could prevail again: community service (not the court-imposed community service). People can also maximize personal relationships for sharing and needs; regimented service would not necessarily be in service of the community if itís a concentration camp. The IRS wishes to tax bartering, but itís hard to track. Not shopping so much is a threat to the economy as dominated by the rich.

So, when some service to the community is necessary, especially in order to secure food from damaged land that must first be depaved, for example, we need not call that work. It is rather "getting food together"ócommunitying!
Revolution of Everyday Life
adapted from an article by Laura Martz

The consumer must be conditioned from birth to hand over the "excess" wage in exchange for the excesses of capitalist production (gadgets). In the early twentieth century the new requirement of capitalism became the total cultural control of workers outside the workplace (when their role changed to that of consumers), through the new advertising industry.

Advertising is perhaps the most obvious mode of spectacular ideology. The spectacle holds workers in thrall, teaching them in what is called their "free" time that their desires can be satisfied through consumption. The upkeep of the capitalist economic system thus finally encroaches on all our waking hours.

The spectacle steals every experience and sells it back to us, but only symbolically, so that we are never satisfied: via this mechanism we support the machine of endless consumption over and over.

Play is thought of as the opposite of "work." Yet under the existing order play is officially allowed only to children. It is made elitist through the professionalization of select people as "athletes," "artists" or "entertainers." These physical, creative activities are reserved for "professionals," who must sell the product of their "play" as consumer goods. Play in the "working world" is diverted, channeled off as "art," contained as decadent behavior in the mainstream of life. Children are punished in school for playing except at scheduled break time, as training for the radical split between what one is ordered to do and what one might like to do.

Furthermore, to play professionally today and live off it, one must be able to command a mass audience and license the commodity to a gang of managers and owners, each of whom creams off a percentage of profit from the "work" (for that is what this "play" has been converted into). "Performance" is now always subject to endless monitoring and control by the professional judges and censors.

Time (because of work, consumption and consumer training), playfulness (because of an obsolete work ethic), and desires divorced from commodities have been lost under the present system.

We call for revolution in the realm of everyday life, to wrest back all that which lay suppressed, but not dead, under the weight of the spectacle/commodity.

We require the abandonment of all work, the better to give oneself over to play--for, as surrealist Andre Breton said, "only the idle can be at the complete disposal of chance."
Free Time!
by Laura Martz

"Close to midnight one evening in May 1968, as a Parisian neighborhood along the Seine lay sleeping, there materialized in the street a group of jesters. At midnight a collection of Marx Brothers movies was set aflicker across the dormant cityscape. Now the jesters began a riotous march through the street, banging on pots, blowing whistles, banging drums.

Presently the local young people appeared and joined the procession...and then, the older, more "respectable" people began to awake and emerge from the apartment buildings. Some of these people were seduced and leapt exuberantly into the fray. Some others promptly got on the phone to the flics. But for awhile, as lore has it, the no longer quite young cavorted in the suburban streets of Paris in their bathrobes with the May generation; torches were lit, boats moving past down the Seine bellowed greetings with horns, drivers pulled over to join the throng...And then, of course, the police arrived and broke everything up, carted some off and chased others away. The neighborhood went back to bed, and to work the next morning. But how would any of these people ever be able to forget the hilarity and fun they had had that night when play and abandon took over? Would their lives ever really be the same?"
--as told on the Internet anarchy-list

To sustain itself, consumer capitalism relies on (1) the maintenance of an outdated survival imperative and work ethic, and (2) a totalizing commodification and consumerism, which necessitates work beyond perceived survival needs. Play has been diametrically opposed to work (defined as wage labor), coded as "decadent".

One's time off the clock is allegedly the proper realm of play. Yet under consumer capitalism this time is cleverly commandeered for other means-- means designed to keep the machine running.

Play will be defined here only loosely, as all that which is diametrically opposed to and excluded by work (its elements of delight, surprise and affect will be preserved). Under capitalism, excess (human energy not necessary to survival) is diverted into accumulation and endlessly-climbing profits for the ruling class. Yet the proper object of the expenditure of this energy is dissipation, "nonproductive expenditure": Play!

Play is a fitting expediture. Play is the refusal of regimentation, supervision and clocks. In this sense, play is a precondition for resistance, which demands time and energy for spontaneity, contemplation, communication, and unity. Play must be recovered.

Reintroducing play into adult life would necessitate the rupture of what Debord called "the spectacle". Future sections of this article will suggest ways to disrupt the media/advertising spectacle, and begin to suggest some possibilities for reclaiming time from work.

My View
by Laura

Becoming a part of a politicaly correct society would involve giving up some beliefs and morals I'm not able to part with. This is just part of my aquired point of view.

-- A child watching TV sees a new toy advertised, so his parents, to over compensate for their lack of time with the child (in an effort to obtain more money for stuff they need?), buy this new toy. The toy at first is popular with the other children so he gains attention and popularity. But of course with all things fancy it slowly "dies in its craddle"[shakspeare] is lost ,broken, whatever. So now the child's social world is crumbling around him.... he absolutely NEEDS a new toy.

Then we have the mother. She is not getting the same anttention, reasurance, or compliments from her husband. The TV tells her that if she just had these new shoes, or this diet, or this new hair-do; if she could just look like a barbie doll..... Forget being the compationate, attentive wife he needs-- as long as you can turn him on you'll feel better about yourself [which she can't do because she just missed the whole point].

Then you have the man who is feeling overwhelmed by his respondsibilities to provide for his family. So the TV says just run for bush country or buy this new suped up car and feel the freedom.

SO what you end up with is a whinny little brat that needs a new toy, a wife that every body else wants to f**k (and probably does), a car in the shop, and a larger debt than the family can afford. And they're still miserable.

I don't believe I need laws to teach me the concepts of respect, compasson, or diversity. I have nothing that cannot be easily shared. I don't need a fridge because I know god provides. I am never too busy to help someone or to give a kind word. And vanity is not an option. I am compleatly self supporting but I see this as a blessing and not a right. No one has anything that wasn't given to them -even their life.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Why I'm a Hobopoet, Part 147
by Skald

My weirdest job stint occured during my undergrad days at the University of Georgia. I answered an ad in the paper for a telemarketing job-- a generic ad that gave no hint of the type of business involved. I was hired over the phone and given directions to an address on Atlanta Highway.

At the time I was desperate for money so I didn't ask questions.

That night I started work. I was a bit surprised to find that the address was a cemetary, but I was sure I had the wrong place. Yet I was warmly welcomed when I walked in the door by a stereotypical creepy bastard straight out of the Adams Family. The long nosed, black suited bastard sat me down and explained that I would be telemarketing burial plots. "Holy Jesus", I thought, "this is fucking bizarre".

It got worse. Mr. Creepo showed me a standardized script that I had to read... something to the effect of: "Hello! Who am I speaking to? Well, Mr/Ms. so and so, Im calling on behalf of Evergreen Funeral Parlor. Have you ever considered pre-purchasing a burial plot?" The real script was far more subtle and slimy. I sat dazed and dumfounded as the bastard showed me the pre-generated phone number listl. He then bid me good luck and told me to lock up when I left at eleven.... I would be there all alone.

Once the boss left, I cackled nervously for 20 minutes, unable to wrap my head around the idea of telemarketing death. Eventually, I started dialing. Would-be customers fell into two general groups: amused and outraged. The amused folks were primarily young to middle age people who couldn't believe I had the audacity to sell them a burial plot. "Are you for real" was a typical response. I tried my best to follow the script, but no one wanted to cooperate.

The outraged group was mostly old people who figured I'd gotten some inside information on their health. "Why are you calling me?", "How did you get my name?", "How did you know I've been sick?".... and the like were their typical responses. Some were angry. Some were afraid-- as if I were the grim reaper, calling in their number. I tried to assure them that pre-buying a hole in the ground would save their relatives alot of hassle. Also, they'd have the satisfaction of making the important decisions regarding casket, headstone, and plot location. Evergreen offered personalized, perpetual care. Most importantly, a pre-bought funeral offered peace of mind.

Yet, strangely, these old folks seemed more disturbed than calmed by my calls. While at first I took delight in the grim reaper role, the constant rejection and the bewildered outrage soon wore on my nerves. After two hours, it occured to me that there was no way I could finish out the night.... much less show up for another shift.

I wrote a brief note ("I quit"), turned out the lights, locked the door, and left the key under the mat.

To date, this has been the shortest job stint of my ignoble employment career.
The Car Living Bible
by Skald

I've just got to include a lengthy plug for Craig Roberts' self-published Car Living Bible, "10 Years of Living In Cars". It's a fantastic book that covers most of the practical considerations for living in your car (or van).

Craig seems to be a survivalist and gun enthusiast, so much of the book is flavored with that tone but even if that's not your thing (as it isn't mine), the book is chock full of fantastic tips for making car living an enjoyable and comfortable experience.

This is the book that helped me have a productive year and a half in my van while living in suburban Georgia.

To order the book, check out his website: 10 Years of Living In Cars

Here is the book's table of contents:

Chapter 1: Outfitting a Car For Comfortable Living
Chapter One discusses simple, non-damaging car interior modifications that can be used to make any car comfortable to live in. Car insulating options, condensation prevention, car interior privacy, and car "privatization" legality concerns are some of the main topics discussed. Ways in minimizing any unusual infrared signature emitted from a car that is being lived in is also discussed. (approximately 7,866 words in length)

Chapter 2: Sleeping/Relaxing Comfortably Inside a Car During Extreme Temperature Weather
Chapter Two discusses what the author feels is the most important information that can be used to help one remain comfortable inside a car during extreme temperature (hot & cold) weather. Although chapter two could easily be combined with chapter three because of their similar subject matter----to show the exclusiveness and importance of the material in chapter two, the author felt that dedicating a single chapter in presenting it would be appropriate. (approximately 2,476 words in length)

Chapter 3: Extreme Cold & Hot Weather Car Living Comfort Enhancements
Chapter Three discusses other modifications, techniques, and enhancements that can be implemented mainly inside a car to enhance one's comfort during extreme temperature weather. (approximately 4,240 words in length)

Chapter 4: Meeting Car Living Organization & Storage Needs
Chapter Four gives recommendations as to how a person living in a car can best meet their organization and storage needs. Specialized storage, including moisture and/or oxygen sensitive storage, is also covered. (approximately 2,487 words in length)

Chapter 5: Staying Clean and Meeting Bath Room Needs While Living in Cars
Chapter Five discusses car interior cleanliness concerns; clothes washing options, considerations, and recommendations; car living bathing options, considerations, and recommendations; and satisfying toilet needs in car living situations. (approximately 7,380 words in length)

Chapter 6: Meeting Food & Drinking Water Needs While Living in Cars
Chapter Six discusses options in meeting food and drinking water needs in car living situations. Drinking water sources, retrieval, and storage; food preparation, heating, and cooking options; and food refrigeration/freezer storage options are some of the main topics covered. (approximately 4,802 words in length)

Chapter 7: Useful Equipment to Have While Living in Cars
Chapter Seven discusses equipment/possessions that are useful to have in car living situations. Deficits and/or hazards pertaining to the use of certain equipment is also covered. (approximately 2,494 words in length)

Chapter 8: Meeting 12-Volt DC and 120-Volt AC Electrical Power Needs While Inside a Car
Chapter Eight discusses options, considerations, and recommendations in meeting electrical power needs in car living situations. Equipment operating hazards and deficits are also covered. (approximately 9,070 words in length)

Chapter 9: Protecting Yourself & Your Car While Living in Cars
Chapter Nine discusses options in protecting yourself and your car in car living situations. Personal physical and financial protection, physical residence address concerns, car theft/vandalism prevention, car bullet-proofing modifications, and self-protection weaponry options are some of the main topics covered. Although this material has applications for general car living situations, it will be very useful to those living/working inside a car parked at dangerous areas in a big city, such as bounty hunters and surveillance specialists. (approximately 10,605 words in length)

Chapter 10: Unlimited Parking Options for Car Living & Surveillance Work Parking Situations
Chapters 10 and 12 were the most exciting and enjoyable for the author to write--they are the author's favorite chapters. Chapter Ten discusses everything the author knows about "secret" parking situations. General parking recommendations that should be considered when choosing any parking location, ways in making a car blend in better wherever it is parked, and the many conditions that make parking locations suitable or unsuitable are thoroughly discussed and analyzed. This chapter also describes and analyzes dozens of different parking locations the author has used in meeting his "secret" parking needs. (approximately 15,138 words in length) more about Ch. 10

Chapter 11: Attending College Living Secretly Inside a "Privatized" Car
Chapter Eleven discusses how the author attended college living secretly inside a "privatized" car. Bathing options, nutrition options, exercise options, campus police, nighttime campus parking situations, physical address requirement, and electrical power options are some of the topics discussed. (approximately 4,603 words in length)

Chapter 12: Making Police Encounters Successful/Productive
Chapters 12 and 10 were the most exciting and enjoyable for the author to write--they are the author's favorite chapters. Chapter Twelve discusses how to make police encounters productive and how to end them quickly. What exactly takes place during a typical nighttime police encounter, the best ways to respond to police questioning, the best ways of dealing with a police encounter that occurs while having intimate relations inside a "privatized" car, and detailed accounts of some of the author's encounters with police are the main topics covered. (approximately 6,621 words in length) more about Ch. 12

Chapter 13: Critical Car Maintenance & Other Valuable Car Care Information
The information in Chapter Thirteen is geared to helping any car owner maintain their car so that it gives the longest possible life with minimal problems. Critical car maintenance, non-critical but necessary car maintenance, other useful car care information, and useful tools, accessories, & parts to have while living in cars is thoroughly discussed. (approximately 9,018 words in length)

Chapter 14: The Freebies
Chapter Fourteen discusses ways the author has enhanced his car living by successfully using the facilities of businesses, such as using hotel/apartment/country club/condominium/resort swimming pools as an anonymous guest. (approximately 1,653 words in length)

Hoboteaching Options (Wander The World)!
by Skald

Teaching English is a terrific way to travel the world. For those hobopoets who are not independently wealthy (most of us), we must find some way to fund our international travels. For some that means making money at home while van living. But for others, that means funding their travels by teaching abroad.

If you are a native English speaker, it is very easy to see the world..... if you are willing to live simply and cheaply. There are many options. One option is to set up private classes on your own. We are hobopoets afterall, and take it from me... a job in a foreign country is just as miserable as a job at home.

The first step is to choose a country where English is in demand. This includes most of Asia and the Americas, most of the Middle East, and much of Africa. Step two is to move to that country. My advice is to go with at least 5 months living expenses (saved by van living or other means) in order to give yourself plenty of time to find students. Be sure to figure out the visa situation too. Every country is different in this regard.... so I can only give advice on Thailand. Its very easy to enter Thailand on a two month tourist visa. These can be extended for another month at the immigration office. You'll have to leave the country every three months to repeat this process-- a nice excuse to visit Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Another option, if you've got the funds, is to register at a Thai language school and study Thai.... which will make you eligible for a one year student visa. This is the option I chose. Lastly, you can get a job at a language school and they will sponsor you for a one year work visa.

Once the visa situation is taken care of, and you've gotten settled in, its time to find students. The easiest option is to get a part or full time job at a language school-- then let your students know that you offer "privates". Once you've built up your private classes, quit the job. Another option is to put up fliers at Universities and in the central business districts. Keep them VERY simple and include an email address. Most potential students will find it easier to write you than to talk to you in English on the phone. Another technique is to hang out on campuses and in coffee shops. You'll be amazed at how many folks will approach you in order to practice their English.

When setting up privates, I highly recommend small groups over one on one. To make a livable wage teaching one on one you must charge outrageous prices (which some people will indeed pay). But if you create a class of 4-8 people you can charge each one less and yet still make more money per hour. Everybody wins. And frankly, one on one classes are less interesting for the students and the teacher than are small groups.

If you don't have experience teaching, you'll need to figure out a teaching method and find some materials. If at a loss, check my sidebar links for hoboteaching. They lead to a number of very innovative and effective techniques, including "Total Physical Response" (great for beginners), "Total Physical Response Storytelling"(all levels), "Focal Skills Approach" (all levels). Also check out the ALG ("Automatic Language Growth") site for advice on using a long "silent period" in order to boost the effectiveness of your teaching techniques.

If you'd like some clear, structured materials, go to the TPR-S site and order their "Look I Can Talk" series of books. The TPR site also has some good books, including lesson plan books and general teaching guides. With these materials and a few weeks of experience, you should be able to provide students with solid English instruction. An added bonus of these methods is that they are all natural methods with a solid body of research behind them. They are also much more fun to teach, less stressful for the students, and more effective than traditional grammar-based methods.

A key factor for setting up classes is where to teach them. Don't teach classes in far flung locations. They aren't worth it as you'll spend far too much time and money commuting. Private classes are supposed to enhance your freedom and enjoyment, not become another monotonous and painful job. Teaching in your apartment is always an option, as long as you set it up like a class... with plenty of chairs, a small table, and a white board at minimum. Teaching in your student's apartments or offices is also a good option, as long as they are nearby.

Be sure to be VERY precise about your fee structure. Also, require students to pay for a month in advance. Most won't mind, as all language schools also require this. If you are paid up front you won't have to worry about students missing class-- its up to them. You also reduce the hassle of constantly collecting money. Print out a small flier, in VERY simple English, that explains your price structure and payment policy.

By following these guidelines you should have little trouble establishing yourself... though allow 5-10 months to really get going. You can work part time at a language school during this period if you need extra cash. Once established, you should be able to live comfortably by teaching only 2-4 hours per day,..... maybe less if you are a hard core hobopoet (and depending on the local economic conditions). And that's the point after all.... to live abroad, see the world, and have a great lifestyle..... all with an absolute minimum of work.

A final note: Hoboteaching Abroad is also an ideal technique for the part time hobopoet. This option is even easier than the above method..... because it is very easy to find lucrative jobs, especially in Asia. Korea in particular is a very easy place to get a teaching job, though most require a Bachelors degree (in any subject). Japan and Taiwan are also good locations. Without a degree its better to set up private classes or to go to less stringent countries. Check out the sidebar link to Dave's ESL Cafe.... that site has a large international job board.

The part time strategy is simple..... go to a country that pays well (Japan, Korea) and work full time for a year. These jobs typically provide a free apartment and free airfare, so you can easily save two-thirds of your salary or more. Many (most) of these jobs are not particularly pleasant.... they will work you like a dog and treat you like crap. But at the end of that year you'll have a big stash of cash. Leave the country and move to a country with cheap living expenses- such as India or any country in SE Asia (or Africa, Ecuador, etc...).

Most part time hobopoets should be able to manage a one to one ratio in this way.... that is, for every year of work they can live for a year without working.... just traveling around having a great time. I've done the PT hoboteaching option twice. The last time I managed to work only 6 months in Japan and then take a full year off (a 1 to 2 ratio). I did this by traveling in cheap countries (Thailand, Nepal, India, Malaysia) and by living in my van once I got back to the States (part of that money even paid for the van!).
I'm Not From Around Here
by Emily Hanlon

The dashboard is my bookshelf,
steering wheel doubles as a coffee table;
in the back is my bedroom,
I sleep heavily right behind the
benchseat of a closet every night.
My seat is worn, comfortable in
my one-roomed home I can see
both sunrise and sunset,
no matter where I am.

Marshy Florida highway
is so boring: kudzu raising
monsters out of technology's children yet
my eyes focus on
spiny fronds of the palmetto
protecting the wet ground from
too much sun.

Slow, crawling, Atlanta traffic
smells like death.
So the billboards and
my automobiled neighbors evolve into
my entertainment: I laugh
at the bald guy in the gaudy Porsche.

Narrow North Carolina mountain paths
make me thankful when my tires
hold the precarious road and my bus
doesn't go crazy
flipping
tumbling down
the steep slope.

Lush Canadian wilderness and
I stare past the shoulder of the road,
my bus must drive itself
and I know she wishes
she, too, could let herself linger
upon the pines and quiet green.

Endless cornfields of Iowa's
life-blood ambush us.
I cruise too fast but my bus,
I think, loves it.
Every three foot hill is a thrill
on a perfect grid of shining pavement.

Barren Texas interstate
and I listen to Paul Simon
Graceland blaring on the radio.
Her wheels spin soundlessly,
counting the flat, stiff armadillo
while the miles fall away.

Inside my cocoon
the wind blows hot, loud, and
wild around my head. My hair whips
my face and attempts
escape out the open window.
a conversation drifts by and I,
with one naked foot up on the dashboard,
am at home,
driving.
Rad RV's
by Peter Werbe

The scene is typical around campfires from Coloradoís Rocky Mountain National Park to the Great Smokies in North Carolina. A couple of hardcore backpackers, just returned from a few days of wilderness hiking and climbing, stare in part amusement, part digust at a 35-foot recreational vehicle (RV) lumbering into the campground in search of electrical and water hookups. The $82,000 Pace Arrow is slung with bike racks, a wading pool and bristles with TV antenae.

ìGawd,î mocks one of hard edge campers, ìwhy didnít they just bring their whole house?î

Indeed, these behemoths of the road have many of the amenities of home including posh living and sleeping quarters plus kitchen and bathroom facilities which even allow for hot water showers. Roughing it is definitely not the intent here.

Itís evident thereís a vast chasm between some peopleís desire for a backcountry, close-to-nature experience and that of others for camping in the comforts of what is literally a mobile home.

However, there is an underground sector of todayís youth culture developing that perhaps provides a middle-ground between the two approaches to life on the road. Younger, hipper and decidedly less conventional than their RVing forebears, these neo-nomads are are defining a new lifestyle.

Typical of those in this emerging trend is an ex-Detroiter, now going by the name Sunfrog, who chucked a promising writing career in the Motor City to head out for the open road with his companion and child. Their home is a converted 1980 Ford Econoline van with a turtle top and queen size bed.

ìWe want to re-invent the sterotype of the RVer,î says Sunfrog. ìWeíre not 65-year-olds with a Winnebago in tow and a TV in the RV.î

And, heís not alone. Sunfrog describes a ìhuge sub-cultureî of radical youth RVers transversing the continent, singlely or in caravans. ìWeíre a ëpoverty jet set,íî he laughs, ìliving on a shoe string, ignoring camping fees, and doing soup kitchens or Food Not Bombs feedings for free food.î Sunfrog estimates his family traveled the country for six months on $1000.

Their odyssey took them east to French-speaking rural Quebec, south to Florida and as far west as the national Rainbow gathering in northern New Mexico. After their funds began to dry up, they did temp work in San Francisco, Sunfrog doing data entry for organizers of omni-sexual, Bay area safe sex events, and his companion Lisa, as a stripper at the Lusty Lady saloon in North Beach.

Sunfrog and family assiduously avoided the nationís 16,000 Yogi Bear-type RV parks, with their jungle gyms and minature golf courses, instead relying on information gleaned from Don Wrightís Guide to Free Campgrounds; 10th Edition to avoid paying to camp. ìIt was our bible,î says Sunfrog. ìWe couldnít afford fees that were as much as $40 a night in the Florida Keys, and we never paid a dime our entire trip.î Besides campgrounds, overnight sites were often strip mall parking lots or even outside fancy hotels where they helped themselves in the morning to complimentary continental breakfasts. Cooking is done roadside over propane stoves, wash-up and showers come courtesy of park accommodations or streams and rivers, while bathroom facilities are often the nearby bush.

Statistically, radical RVers make up only a small portion of the estimated 25 million people on the road in recreational vehicles. The average age of the conventional RV owner is 48 and unlike their youthful counterparts, the vast majority donít see the activity as as a life-style, just a comfortable way to spend a vacation.

Sunfrog denied any friction between the two subculture. ìMost mainstream RVers see a long-haired family in an RV and just assume we were on a Grateful Dead tour.î

For many conventional families, mainstream RVing is the opportunity for them to experience a connectedness often missing in the hectic daily lives many Americans lead. ìAt home we often donít get the chance to sit down and eat dinner together,î says Christine Loomis, travel editor of Family Life magazine. ìWhen we travel in an RV, we eat together every day.î

Not surprisingly, most RV owners are an up-scale bunch, according to industry figures, with an average income of nearly $40,000. They use their vehicles approximately 23 days a year and travel 5,900 miles a year. To join the RV fraternity, you have to have some bucks, and not just for the startlingly low gas milage the big vehicles get. Although pop-up trailers can start as low as a few thousand, the really elegant rigs can top out at over $100,000

But whether you sleep on a foam pad in a converted van or the bedroom of a luxurious motorhome, the yearly vacation has tremendous importance in our society. The 14-day respite from toil approaches iconic status in modern, work-intensive, industrial cultures as the reward for 50 weeks of bone- or mind-deadening work. However, the two-week vacation is increasingly a thing of the past with the average American now receiving paid time off for only eight days. By contrast, European workers often receive as much as six weeks.

For many Americans, a vacation means taking the money saved all year and blowing it on a brief stay at a expensive resort or hotel, eating meals in restaurants, and getting a tan to prove to oneís fellow workers that you were at leisure. .Sunfrog and other gypsy-RVers, by contrast, donít think life on the road should be something special.

ìEveryday can be a vacation if you abandon the values of the consumer generation,î he observes. ìWe donít have the disposable income of the previous generation, but we realize all of life can be a vacation if we abandon the mall values of our parents.î

Like Sunfrog and family, most adherents of this contemporary nomad philosophy, travel in older model van conversions with even a sprinkling of the classic ësixties rideóthe VW micro-bus. Many of the vehicles sport nouveau-hippie decorations on the exterioróincluding the old-fashioned peace symbolóbut most travelers prefer to leave their vans unadorned to allow for an unobstrusive presence at parks and campgrounds.

Once summer hits, youth RVers begin touring in earnest, hitting numerous alternative events, most of which are unknown to mainstream vacationers. By unspoken agreement, gypsy-RVers are apt to turn up in numbers at neo-hippie national Rainbow gatherings, the radical environmental Earth First! Round River Rendezvous where direct action to preserve the wilderness is planned, Vermontís Bread and Puppet Theater pageant featuring outdoor plays starring giant puppet figures, or the Burning Man Festival held in the Nevada desert where post-punk, primitivist celebrants torch a giant effigy following pagan revelry.

Once part of a marginal subculture, these events, which now attract thousands and have leaked into the mainstream through exposure in such publications as Details magazine. As a result, some participants in the gypsy RV scene fear increasing commercialization at the sites threatens to suck the authenticity and romance out of the underground

Sunfrog, however, thinks they will avoid becoming what he calls a ìcommodified spectacle.î

ìEven if Rainbow and Burning Man attract tourists and gawkers, theyíre still mainly non-commercial events that evade the commodification of the nomadic lifestyle.î

Meanwhile down the road, mainstream RVers, who are decidedly less apt to dance around a fire adorned only with body paint, will more likely turn up at the network of RV regional rallies, campouts, and conventions sponsored by groups like the Good Sam Club, Family Campers and RVers, and the Loners on Wheels

Culture clash? You bet, but fortunately there are enough highways and woods left to accommodate everybody.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Bang! in Varanasi
by Skald

I'd read "The Teachings of Don Juan" one too many times perhaps,.... or maybe it was the infectious delirium of Varanasi itself.... the filthiest, holiest, most magical pilgrimage in all the world.... where funeral pyres line the polluted Ganges... where bloated cows float by bathing children.... and the stink of death and Ganja are always in the air.

The city is a medieval warren of stone alleyways--- narrow, twisting, and dark.... an ancient city that has recieved Hindu pilgrims for millenia. All the disease, all the charm, all the wretched truths of humanity, are concentrated in Varanasi. It is an intoxicating place. It is a frightening place.

I slurped my first bang lassi at twilight. "Bang" is a yogurt drink with a heavy mixture of marijuana. You slurp it down, then wait nervously. It hits hard.... producing a violent shift in consciousness far in excess of smoked ganja. It hit me as the city grew dark. I was wandering the warren... and suddenly found myself in a dark alley. The darkness hummed and shimmered. Voices murmered in the murky distance. I had no idea where I was. Paranoia crept up my gullet.... all those half-read stories of murdered foreigners found floating in the river... or never heard from.

I stumbled on with one had braced against the wall. Dark shapes slouched in a pool of light up ahead... hawk faced Indians.... their black eyes stared and I swear they never blinked. I stumbled past them, heart beating. Would they club me from behind? Knife me in the kidneys? I braced for the blow, but none came.

I wandered like this for an hour, maybe more... lurched from streetlamp to darkness and back again.... avoided the steely gazes, tensed for the blows that never came.

Eventually I fled the warrens and reached the river... plunged into a gyrating mass of pilgrims.... a chaotic jangle of bells, cymbals, shouts, and singing. Among the crowd were fingerless lepers, mutilated cripples, and feral children. Priests, their foreheads smeared with ash, stood upon a wooden platform on the river's edge. In unison they waved large oil lamps in sync with the jangling rhythm of the bells. Filthy sadhus plunged into the river beside them.... black water, plastic trash, bloated cow corpse, reflected fire. Ecstasy..... wild and jubilant ecstasy gripped my balls and flooded my chest, and lit my eyes, and raised my hair. The beautiful-horrifying scene, combined with my crazed mental state, jolted me to somewhere I had never been before. My gaze shot crazily from scene to scene: the dancing priests, the cow corpse, the wild eyed pilgrims, the dancing oil lamps, the bathing sadhus, the black water, the shuddering cymbals, the cripples, the lepers.... here it was, disease and death and joy and wretchedness... the full horrid madness of life,... of humanity. Here it was, seen with a mind stripped of logic and judgement.

It was an awe inspiring moment..... one I struggle to do justice to. I felt an incredible sense of "aliveness".....a sense of "oneness" so often cited in spiritual texts. Everything seemed to fit. Everything was right. This was life and I was in it. I felt free. And I glimpsed, for just a moment, that awesome power that has drawn pilgrims to Varanasi for generations.

As I think back to that experience, and to others like it, I realize that these are the moments that neo-nomadism makes possible. The wage-slave's life is one of unending monotony.... but the hobopoet, inevitably, has brief encounters with the strange, the terrifying,.... even the divine. Unhurried and unscheduled, the hobopoet plunges into the unknown. That is where the magic is... there and only there.



Why I'm a Hobopoet, Part 234
by Skald

My first job was at Arby's.... I got it one summer between my sophmore and junior year in High School. I wanted some spending money, plus my parents were on my back to get a job. They had the idea that work would make me more responsible!

From the very first day I knew something was amiss. Suddenly, the gloriously languid freedom of childhood summers came to an end. I was treated as a slave: bossed around, forced to wear a humiliating uniform, saddled with an oppresive schedule. I had to ask permission to eat or to use the bathroom. Customers treated me like a servant. They were rude and condescending. The bosses were worse. They were petty, stupid, and vulgar. They tried to compensate for their wasted and miserable lives by setting themselves up as petty dictators of the state of Arby's. They delighted in giving orders. They never said please. Every manager was trained in the same techniques: the sneer, the annoyed grumble, the squinty gaze. Perhaps they took classes.

Every day I returned home smelling of beef fat and vegetable oil. My hands were sticky with grease and milk shake syrup. My feet ached and my back hurt. My clothes were filthy. I was tired and pissed off.

Occaisionally I wanted a day off... to go to a concert with friends or to just relax. I had to fill out a "time off request", and no matter how far in advance I did this, the fat-ass managers always scheduled me for that day. I can remember the gnawing sense of desperation I felt whenever friends visited me at the restaurant. I felt like a caged animal... desperate to be free. If only I could have chewed my arm off and fled!

Eventually, I did escape. When school started back up I was frenzied.... I yearned for freedom. My parents were hyper sensitive about my grades-- always insistent that I make nothing but As and Bs. I told them I couldn't work and continue to study, that the strain was just too great....that I was afraid a job would lead me to bad grades, a black eye on my "permanent record" (whatever the fuck that is), and a long horrid life of unemployment and homelessness. My parents relented (never suspecting that someday I would choose a life of unemployment and nomadism- despite a damned fine permanent record!).

And so I escaped employment for a while. But that experience began a lifelong hate-affair with jobs that continues to this day. Right away I sensed the Enemy-- the horrible theft of my freedom and autonomy that employment represented. I felt the degradation and humiliation. I saw the petty power hunger of bosses, all bosses. I understood, viscerally, the whole slimy enterprise that is "work".

Since then, I've had many jobs... mcjobs, student jobs, part-time jobs, office jobs, labor jobs, full-time jobs, professional jobs, management jobs, corporate jobs, non-profit jobs..... and every one of them has confirmed the realizations of that first one. "Work", as Hakim Bey once wrote, "is the precise target of my rebellious wrath". It is the primary theif of our dignity, freedom, and autonomy. It is the corruptor of our ideals... the killer of our enthusiasm.... the yoke around our necks.

Jack Kerouac was right, 'the problem with "work" (jobs) is that you are always doing someone else's.' My work, my true vocation, has nothing to do with employment. My work is to travel, to learn, to grow, to write, to love, to explore, to play, to live.... My most important "job" is to experiment with my own life. I am a scientist, and my life is my lab.

In retrospect I am grateful to Arby's for helping me to realize that. The monotony and humiliation of that job stripped the enemy of all its propaganda. I suspected then, and know now, that there is no dignity in "a good day's work"... unless that work is solely and truly my own. Employment is not respectable, and there is nothing more pathetic than the working man.

And slavery is nothing to be proud of.
Dignity Village
by Duncan Campbell - The Guardian

Pirate Steve surveyed the eccentric collection of shacks and cabins that is now his home on the outskirts of Portland. "Quite frankly, being here has been the best period of my life," he said. "Not the time when I had my sports car, my condo and my jewellery."

Known as Pirate Steve because of the patch which covers an eye seriously injured in a car accident, the former
laser optics technician is one of more than 60 homeless people who have turned an uninviting patch of land near the city's airport into a model for living.

Dignity Village, as the ragtag collection of dwellings is known, has its own council, legislature and bylaws, and is now in the process of creating its own judiciary.

Urban phenomenon On Wednesday, the village residents presented Portland's city council with proposals for their future,
requesting that they be allowed to stay on the site for a further 10 years.

With homelessness across the United States a growing urban phenomenon, the residents of the village believe that what
they have accomplished over the past two years could act as a model for others who sleep beneath flyovers and in shopfronts.

The council is now considering their application. Born in France into a military family and brought up in San
Antonio, Texas, Pirate Steve, 46, is not untypical of the village's residents.

Many have had decent jobs but hit hard times as a result of injury or illness, found themselves unable to pay
their bills, and ended up on the street.

"I lived in a suburb of Fort Worth," said Gary Spry, an electrician and father of four who lives in the village with his
wife and youngest daughter.

"If someone had said to me I would have ended up homeless, I would have laughed in their face."

But an accident, followed by a series of operations not fully covered by his work insurance, meant Spry had to abandon his house.

At the village, he has helped to set up a windmill for electricity, part of the encampment's ecologically sound
philosophy. His daughter, the youngest village resident at 17, attends the local high school.

Dignity Village presents a snapshot of American homelessness which, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, has increased by 14% in the past two years, with 3.5 million people now classified as homeless.

Some two-thirds of the inhabitants of the village are male. Residents range in age from 17 to 72.

They include many people with professional qualifications, of all races and religions.

There are a number of Vietnam veterans, including four or five ex-marines, and two children have been conceived there. There are tomatoes, potatoes and squash growing on the land, which adjoins a local prison.

An elected council meets weekly, and there are mandatory fortnightly meetings for all residents, who each have to give 10 hours of their time a week to the village's chores.

The rules are straightforward and enforced by threat of banishment, either temporary or permanent: no violence and respect for others- which means not playing music too loudly or having noisy arguments.

"We get along like a big family," said Tim McCarthy, who is the village treasurer and lives in a rambling abode through which rat-catching cats wander. "We have our tiffs and bouts like any big family, but we look after each other." Most of the neighbours were sympathetic, he said, except for one, "who wouldn't be happy if Dignity Village was in the Mojave desert."

McCarthy, one of a family of eight from Ohio, worked for more than seven years for a local convenience store before losing his job. Suffering from emphysema and other illnesses requiring expensive medication, he had to cash in his life insurance policies, and ran out of money.

A voracious reader of westerns and sci-fi, he showed off the village library, a converted old airport bus donated by Lee
Larson, a retired local businessman who has become one of the village's advocates and benefactors. A young woman nearby was giving a friend an open-air haircut.

The villagers have their own theories as to why homelessness has grown in the US over the past two decades.

The easy availability of credit was to blame, said Gaye Reyes, who had "worked for a company that didn't treat people well", and after becoming ill had become homeless. She thought that credit had allowed people to get into debt in ways that had not been possible 20 years ago.

"We have allowed Madison Avenue to tell us how we should smell and what we should look like and what kind of house we should live in," said Reyes, as an amiable dog called Turtle - "three-quarters wolf" - leaned over her shoulder. When people were unable to pay their bills they ended up on the street.

Raw capitalism "The cost of living is now so damn high. There are people working here who can't afford to get an apartment," said Reyes. Employers were unwilling to give jobs to those who had no home address: "I've worked in human resources, and I wouldn't hire you with a backpack on your back."

Jack Tafari, the dreadlocked, 57-year-old chairman of the village council, who has also lived in London and Amsterdam, blamed "economic globalisation ... I'm aware it's a bit of a buzzword, but you are getting a wider gap between the rich and poor and jobs are going elsewhere.

"It's not ameliorated by capitalism, which is a bit more raw here. You have different rights here - rights to carry a gun and
shoot off your mouth, but not a right to your health."

The authorities in Portland, a comparatively liberal city, have not been unsympathetic. The mayor, Vera Katz, who supported the initial lease of land to the village, says the city takes the issue of homelessness very seriously.

"As mayor, I can't turn my back and walk away from the fact that we have people who don't have shelter," she said.

The issue that the council now had to decide, said Ms Katz, was whether to extend the lease.

She said the village had shown how homes could be constructed using very inexpensive materials and had demonstrated that there were other ways of tackling homelessness apart from the traditional ones.

Mr Larson, the donor of the library bus, said yesterday: "Dignity Village is just an incredible success story. I think you could see several Dignity Villages in different parts of the country for people who have difficulty dealing with the authorities or with the shelters, which you have to leave during the day.

"I am very impressed with what they have done out of nothing, and I think it is replicable."

With a damp Oregon winter - fast approaching, Jack Tafari and the other villagers are hopeful that they will be able to prove to the world that there is life beyond the underpass.

"We are the grist escaping from the mill," he said.
A Certain Change In Consciousness
by Shane

Every summer I take my mini van up to Northern California and camp in it while I stay with friends in between.

I can't tell you all my secrets, especially showers-so important! I know a few good ones in campgrounds that are free in very expensive areas. [see the April/May 2003 Archives for lots of van living ideas.... including tips on bathing -Skald]

One thing I can tell you-in a pinch, a plastic grocery bag makes a good poop bag. Just tie it up and dump in the nearest garbage. I used a coffee can with a top to pee in.

I slept in motel parking lots many times. Libraries are usually very friendly with advice on local areas you're staying in. Also a good place to shave and brush teeth in a pinch.

I miss not being able to walk around in my house at night. The whole adventure requires a certain change in consciousness. It really makes you aware of how fixated we become to certain patterns. Also, I think it makes one become more aware of our social peer pressure, so to speak. I mean that you become categorized as homeless even though you may have good savings in the bank. It makes you realize how many gray areas there are in society.

There also is a kind of marvelous freedom in not being tied down. A feeling I love about living in a car. Paradoxically, there is also a new appreciation for living in a house with all the luxuries that come with it.


I Never Thought About It As Surviving
by Shenan

I have been living out of my pick-up truck for about three years now. It started as a road trip across country and has just grown from there. My truch and I have hit every state except Hawaii. I never really thought about it as surviving. I just thought of it as living.

Free your mind... Your ass will follow.

I was living and working here in Georgia, living a pretty boring but normal life. A course of life-changing (threatening) events occurred, and I realized that if I had died I would never have seen anything, or been anywhere. So I took a trip.

I had always been the one in my group of friends to not go anywhere alone. I was always with a group. But I packed my car up and took off for Mississippi. I heard about a small women's festival and decided I would go. I was scared the entire eight-hour drive, but once I got there I made about a hundred friends over a weekend and was in love with life. I had to see more.

I ended up living at Camp Sister Spirit for a while, seeing New Orleans, meeting people from all over the world, and realized I had to get on the road. I had all these friends to visit now. So I started going to women's festivals across the country, meeting more people, and on and on.

I lived in Washington State for about a year and a half. I fell in love with the greenness of it, and the people were wonderful. But the bug started biting and I had to move again. I made this silly goal for myself. I would go to and at least set foot in every state. I've gotten every one of them except Hawaii. And as soon as they build that bridge...

The friends I have, I have more often than not met at a festival. But sometimes I make friends through friends, and sometimes I just meet them at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. I guess I am easy to get to know. I have always figured you get back what you put out there.

For me, the positive aspect has been the freedom, of course. Waking up on a beach, then falling asleep on a mountain that night. And the people I have met on the road. I have so many friends now, I can't stop travelling. I love the simplistic chaos of my life. Everything I own is with me, I have all I need, my life is full.

Drawbacks... hmmmm. Traveling can wreak havoc on my love life. Hard to be in a long term relationship with a traveler. I do so hate getting ripped off. It has happened a few times. I try really hard to keep my cynicism at a low level. It's hard sometimes. My mother hates the way I live. She would be happier if I lived in one place-close to her.

Advice or helpful hints:

One, learn how to barter. If you have a skill or a craft you can trade, you'll be amazed what you can get.

Two, always carry those cheapy Mylar emergency blankets with you. They have kept me from freezing a few times.

Three, if you find a source of fresh, clean water, make sure you bottle some for a few days travel. I found out the hard way about the non-potable water in a few New Mexico rest areas.

Four, keep a small Styrofoam cooler with a hunk of dry ice in it. It's like having a small fridge, but cheaper.

One of my biggest tips is, don't forget to pull over, stop, and just look at where you are. The pictures in your mind will be the scenery of your dreams.


Delivery Jobs While Van Living
by Skald

Kurt Wettstein's cab driving experiences suggest several other ideal money-making jobs for the van dweller. My own solution was to work as a delivery person for a restaurant. I struggled with the challenge of living with my dog in the van. I didn't want to go off to a job and leave her in the car for a long time.... all alone. The perfect solution was a delivery job.

I delivered sandwiches during the lunch hour. This job allowed me to be with my dog most of the day. Between deliveries I could walk her. She seemed to enjoy riding around town with me and I certainly enjoyed the company.

One of the biggest benefits of a delivery job is that there is no boss looking over your shoulder. You typically rush back to the restaurant to pick up more food and then you are off again.... free and happy in your traveling home.

An unexpected benefit of this job is that it gave me much more exposure downtown, near the restaurant. Cops and business owners got used to seeing my van.... so I could more easily park overnight without being hassled. Many folks just assumed that I lived downtown.
For Quick Earning With Little Expense, Consider Cab Driving
by Kurt Wettstein

I can almost always get a job immediately, anywhere in the country. Drivers often quit, and cab owners are anxious to keep their equipment rolling.

After 6 months, a driver will usually start to "burn out" and not put in as many hours. That's okay: if you've worked hard and not spent much, you'll have enough money to move on.

I just quit the best deal I ever had: 38% of meter plus owner paid gas. I did so much business I couldn't handle the stress. But I now have enough to live modestly for two years.

I usually lease a 24-hour (single shift) cab and sleep in it, bathing at public facilities. Generally, if one is working hard, the owner gives you a lot of leeway.

You will need a valid driver's license with good record, and a sense of direction and ability to rapidly learn your way around. Cab driving is a good way to scout a new area, and gain information and interesting experiences.

I buy a map and (if available) a cab-drivers handbook. The handbook tells the city's numbering system, and the map shows lakes, rivers, railroads which break the system.

Alas, driving is becoming increasingly competitive and, in big cities, regulated. Also, some cities are dangerous, even if one knows the streets well. I advise: small towns, or working-class suburbs adjacent to big cities. Depressed areas are actually good places to make money as many people there can't afford cars. You'll be surprised how many people I take to welfare offices. Waitresses and bartenders often tip well, because THEY depend on tips. Las Vegas is, by universal acclaim, the best place to earn big bucks. As with anything, ask the old timers - which will be easier after one has worked for a while.


Neo-Nomadism
by Skald

Just finished reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, a fascinating book about cultural evolution and how geography and biogeography were the key determinates that led certain regions of the world to be dominant (Europe-Asia) and others to be dominated (Americas, Africa, Australia, Polynesia). The book documents how food production inevitably led to population booms, which inevitably led to more complex societies, which inevitably led to "kleptocracies"... the rule of the many by the few.....

Turns out that once a population exceeds about 80, egalatarian human relations usually evolve into a tribal system. Such systems are still largely egalatarian. However, beyond 4-500 people, chiefdoms typically develop.... a small ruling class assumes more and more power over the growing "commoner" class.

This information is particularly interesting to neo-nomad hobopoets. We, after all, wish to be ruled by no one. We also have no desire to rule.... what we seek are free and egalitarian human relationships. The above situation suggests that such relationships are only possible within a small framework. This gibes with the instinctual feeling that our societies have become far too large and distant... that we in fact have little say over the politics of states and nations.

The good news is that our societies have now expanded to such an extent that it is possible to carve out near-autonomous mini-societies (tribes, clans, lodges,...) within them. It is possible for such clans to move anonymously through the macro-society..... engaging it when useful, using it's slightly old technology and its infrastructure,... yet free of its work-consume-die entrapments. Such mini-societies already exist. They include the neo-hippy "Rainbow Tribe", the Society for Creative Anachronism, certain fraternal/maternal groups, certain secret societies, art communes, gangs, syndicates, anarchist groups, anti-globalisation bands, eco-warrior clans, the Animal Liberation Front, and the like. Many of these groups have their own alternate economies... even allowing some members to live partially or almost fully off such economies.

The biggest danger to a mini-society is for it to grow beyond the limits of egalitarianism.... beyond that magical 3-500 mark. One solution for such growth is to break up the organization-- into largely (or fully) autonomous branches or local groups. To preserve egalitarianism, local groups must retain all key decision making powers.... and their relation to other groups is that of a web of affiliation or a confederacy.... not a centralized bureaucracy. Many nation-wide (or world-wide) mini-societies do just that (fraternal lodges, SCA "households", gang families, EarthFirst chapters, ALF cells, etc...). Thus the core organizing group remains small.

Reducing scale is thus a key task for all who value freedom. We must break our essential social institutions into manageable chunks of fewer than ~400 people... ideally fewer than 80. This is the core idea behind hobopoet clan building efforts.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Be A Hobostudent
by Skald

The internet has opened up tremendous opportunities for hobopoets who wish to go to school. No longer is it necessary to be bound by the limitations of a traditional campus. No longer is it necessary to live in a dorm, pay outrageous student fees, and be bound by a rigid class schedule.

The world of distance learning opens up new possibilities. A hobostudent can now study at their own pace, on their own schedule, while living wherever in the world they want to live. Also, the modern hobostudent can continue a nomadic life while pursuing a wide range of degrees. There are distance learning programs in many fields and at all levels (Bachelors, Masters, and Phd.).

I am currently enrolled in just such a Masters program, through Shenandoah University's TESOL program. I applied to this program while living in my van, unemployed. I was accepted and began the first semester while still living in my van. I used the local library for free internet access.... to research my assignments and to post my papers to the University. The internet is one huge library, so researching papers is no problem at all.

One month into the semester, I moved to Bangkok Thailand without significantly disrupting my studies. I now use internet cafes to do my work. Classes are sent to me on DVD, which I watch on a portable DVD player... or at Thammasat University's library. I arranged an observation practicum at a local English language school.

I am amazingly free compared to previous stints as a traditional student. I watch classes whenever I want to.... am not bound to anyone else's schedule. I can also do my work according to the timing that works best for me. I prefer to work in short, concentrated bursts.... doing alot of work in a short time and then loafing in between. The flexibility of distance learning lets me do just that.

And I can stay on the move. I can take off to Malaysia, or the ocean, or the country, anytime I want without worrying about missing class. I either take the portable DVD player with me and continue working while traveling.... or I catch back up once I get back to Bangkok. Almost every sizable town in SE Asia has internet cafes, so I can write and post assignments from anywhere.

And the best thing of all is that I'm learning much more. I love the independent nature of this program and find that I do more research and more work than when I was just plugging along in an on-campus program. This really is a fantastic way to get a degree!

Matt Salleh is also pursuing a Masters degree via distance learning, while living and working in Malaysia.

In the near future I will compile a list of links to distance learning programs.... look to the sidebar for upcoming information.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Touring Tectonics In Iceland
by Callan

I just had this published yesterday on the website of Geotimes magazine.

The original (with pictures) may be found in Geotimes' Travels In Geology section.

(article begins)

Though at first it may seem off the beaten path, Iceland is an ideal stopover on the way to Paris or Rome. Icelandair offers an unbeatable deal for travelers en route to or from mainland Europe or the United Kingdom. At no extra charge, travelers may stop over in Iceland for up to three nights ó enough time to sample the capital city and tour several geologic must-sees within striking distance of a comfortable hotel.

Iceland has spent the past decade promoting an effective campaign encouraging tourism from abroad. While many Americans were happy enough to listen to rockers Bjˆrk and Sigur RÛs, few had contemplated visiting the North Atlantic nation until the pervasive advertising began. ReykjavÌk has developed into a chic capital, renowned for its cafÈ culture, nightlife, fine arts and popular music. It has rightly billed itself as a hip European city within striking distance of the U.S. East Coast and it is becoming a standard destination for global travelers. The country's geological attractions though, have always been good reasons to visit Iceland; the recent deals associated with the tourism campaign are only icing on the geologist's cake.

No trip to Iceland would be complete without visiting the only spot in the world where you can stand on oceanic crust. At Thingvellir, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises above sea level. Historians know the site for an A.D. 930 meeting of Iceland's version of the Continental Congress, which set down the laws for ancient Icelanders. This human history pales, however, in comparison to the topographic setting. Geologists will awe at Thingvellir's numerous parallel chasms. Half of Iceland is heading east; half of Iceland is heading west. It is a thrill of tectonic proportions to walk from the Eurasian plate to the North American plate. The hike across the spreading center takes only a few minutes through a landscape of columnar basalt dusted with corn snow, and water lying clear as gin in the deeper fissures.

Next stop on any geologic adventure should be the country's famed geysers. From Yellowstone to Rotorua, every spouting hot spring in the world is named for Iceland's Geysir ó a steaming pool in the Haukadalur Valley, a few hours' drive from Reykjavik. Pronounced "gay-zeer," this original geyser (the only word the English language co-opted from Icelandic) means "the gusher." Like geysers everywhere, it a hot spring with an underground chamber. Subterranean magma heats water until it reaches a flashpoint. In a sudden boiling conversion, deep steam expands and drives overlying water up through a fissure in the surface. The release of pressure triggers a further conversion of hot water to steam, and the eruption is thus a positive-feedback loop ó vaporizing a great deal of groundwater. Fountains of boiling water and steam shoot high in the air.

Geysir has been erupting since the 13th century. In its heyday, these eruptions reached heights of 60 meters. However, in the early part of the 20th century, the eruptions became more and more irregular and ceased altogether in 1916. In the less-environmentally aware days that followed, people could coax Geysir into eruption by dumping carbolic soap into the pool; but this practice is currently out of vogue. Now, Geysir sits gently steaming next to a large boulder chiseled with its name ó almost a tombstone for the geyser, given its dormant state.

Fortunately for Haukadalur tourism, Geysir is not the valley's only geothermal feature. A short stroll away from the deflated "father" of geysers is the yet-virile Strokkur. Depending on your translator, Strokkur means "the churn" or "the piston." It erupts every eight minutes or so, with an obelisk of steam and water reaching 30 meters high. Due to few visitors and easy access, it is far more impressive than Yellowstone's prized Old Faithful. Unlike at Old Faithful, visitors can walk right up to the lip of Strokkur. As the eruption begins, there is a slight whirlpool effect, and the pool's water level falls as in a flushing toilet basin. Then a dome of aquamarine water bulges up from the center, 2 meters in diameter and 0.5 meters tall. Viewers only get a brief glimpse of this gem; it exists for perhaps half a second, and then is pierced from within by a vertical jet of steam. After the water collapses again to the ground, the steam hangs in the air like a retinal after-image, dissipating slowly.

Not far from Geysir is Gullfoss, a bi-level waterfall, located in a deep canyon on the Hvit· River. HvÌt· means "White" in Icelandic. Here, water plummets a total of 32 meters in two perpendicular ledges. Gullfoss would be fantastic enough if it were only one falls, but having two ledges in such close proximity lends a geometric M.C. Escher effect to the scene. The river's torrent plunges over the upper falls, makes a 90 degree turn to the left, plunges over the lower falls, and makes a 90 degree turn to the right. Mist drifts up from the falls to several viewpoints situated along the chasm's edge. It deposits a shadowlike edge of ice on the riverward faces of guardrails, cliffs and any tourist who stands there gawking too long.

Round out your Icelandic tour at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa near KeflavÌk. Here, opaque turquoise waters steam in the midst of a dark bouldery basalt flow. Iceland's promotional literature typically features bikini-clad Scandanavians with white mud masks lounging in this surreal setting. Although the Blue Lagoon is not a natural phenomenon, its origin is in Iceland's use of geothermal power. The nearby Svartsengi power plant, industrially venting steam in the visible distance, is fuelled by geothermally warmed seawater. The plant dumped its effluent into the empty lava field, but dissolved minerals precipitated and sealed the cracks in the basalt, forming an unintended pool of pale azure brine. The spa's distinct color is attributed to cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that live in the hot water.

The elegant bathhouse building includes changing rooms, a restaurant and a skin-care products shop. Iceland prides itself on bold architecture, and the Blue Lagoon facility is no exception. Japanese-style footbridges combine with blond wood and a sweeping glass wall to create an impressive structure. From the changing room, bathers enter the Blue Lagoon indoors. They push open a submerged door to exit into the pool proper. It is a wonderful sensation to glide through the dense (2.5 percent salt) water, surrounded by piles of lichen-encrusted basalt. Because of the water's opacity (visibility is approximately the same as in latex paint), bathers must gingerly grope forward with their toes as advance feelers. Visitors also lather their faces with silica mud, although there seems to be little benefit aside from amusing other bathers. After an hour or two, wrinkled as prunes, bathers head back inside for a requisite shower (lest the hair petrify into a geological formation of its own), a Viking beer and a bowl of plokkfiskur fish soup or a set of diminutive puffin steaks.

The Blue Lagoon is a short drive from the KeflavÌk International Airport, also an architectural masterwork and the hub of Icelandair's trans-Atlantic fleet. If you don't have three days, another airline promotional feature allows a stopover of only four hours for the sake of visiting the Blue Lagoon. Travelers may arrive from Glasgow, Paris or Stockholm, pop through Customs with merely a bathing suit and a towel, have a lapis-tinted soak, then head back for their connecting flight to Baltimore, New York or Boston.

(end of article)

If you're interested in seeing other photos from my trip to Iceland last winter, click here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Accomodation In Bangkok
by Stickman

Note: The current exchange rate is ~40 Thai Baht to the US dollar.

There is a huge range of accommodation available in Bangkok from houses to apartments, guesthouse to hotels. Most foreigners who settle here initially choose an apartment over a house because they are more readily available, cheaper and the lack of any maintenance requirements is more convenient. The cheapest apartments start at about 1,500 a month and prices can go up to over 200,000 baht a month for the most luxurious executive digs.

Decide where you want to live, which may largely be dictated by where you work (if you need to), and then pound the pavement looking for your new digs. Take your time and look at as many places as you can before making a decision. If at all possible, talk to other foreigners who are staying in the building and see how they have found it. Ask them about any problems they may have had and how those have been dealt with by the apartment staff.

You can also enlist the services of an agent to help you find an apartment. These agents advertise daily in the Bangkok Post (English Language Newspaper) and their tools of the trade consist of a mobile phone and a car. They have a number of apartment buildings that they have agreements with. They will run you around all over the place showing you all sorts of apartments in the area / price range that appeals to you. You do not pay them directly so if they are unable to find something that you like, their service is free. They are paid by the apartment building if they introduce you to a building and you decide to take out a contract. Note however that this may reduce your chances of bargaining down the apartment price.

Although cheaper places exist, you will need to spend 1,500- 5,000 baht to get somewhere adequate - basic and not too far out in the sticks. 2,500 - 5,000 baht will get you a smallish (about 20 sq. m) studio apartment in the central areas or a slightly more spacious (35+ sq. m) apartment further out. Obviously, the further away you are from Central Bangkok, the cheaper the cost of accommodation. Paying any less than this and you are starting to look at some real doss houses. The cheapest place I have ever seen was this room for 1,000 baht a month - to say it was awful was an understatement.

Reality check: You might be surprised at exactly what is termed an "apartment" in Thailand. Often it is just a 20 square metre room with an add on toilet / bathroom. Back in the West, if someone says apartment to me, I think about a nice lounge / living area with full sized kitchen, bathroom, a couple of bedrooms and of course, a decent balcony. Of course, such apartments are available in Bangkok but a new one in a good location will be quite expensive.

If you want to use the internet, the telephone will be important to you. Most apartment buildings have a limited number of phone lines so when you make a call, there will be a time limit after which the call gets cut off. Time limits vary between 5 and 40 minutes - hardly enough to keep an internet junky happy. Calls from apartment buildings usually cost 5 baht flat rate for a local call. You can get your own direct phone line installed which bypasses the apartment switchboard giving you 3 baht phone calls with unlimited duration. The two most popular companies offering direct lines are the TOT and Asia Telecom. The installation cost of your own line is about 3,000 baht plus you need another 3,000 baht as deposit and the monthly rental charge runs at 100 baht per month. Some buildings will allow you to install a direct line in while others will not - some may even have the audacity to charge you an extra 500 baht per month for this (God only knows why - bunch of greedy so and sos...)

Most apartment buildings will have a laundry within the building where you can drop off all of your smelly, sweaty clothes and get them back in an umm, err, well, you get them back - most of the time! The quality of the work provided by apartment building laundries is variable... Some do a great job while others quite simply butcher your favourite garments.

Beware that power for the air-conditioning unit, especially in the hot season, can easily run up to 5,000 baht a month if you have an inefficient air-con unit operating at a low temperature every day and night. Purchasing a fan (500-700 baht for a small Japanese brand) will save you a lot of money because fans don't consume much power. A fan should be the very first item that you purchase and it is better to go for a bigger one, rather than the smaller size. The bigger fans seem to be a little quieter and less prone to breaking down, at least in my experience. Further, the bigger fans are definitely more effective. A couple of fans can be almost as good as air-conditioning.

Apartments usually require a deposit of one months rent and two month's rent paid in advance. (If you are an English teacher or someone moving to Bangkok without a lot of capital, you need to consider this.) Many apartments insist on a six month contract but with occupancy rates being low in all but the cheapest apartment buildings, you may be able to negotiate this. Rates too are up for negotiation but if you are going to be there for a short period of time, they may be less willing to negotiate. Figure on knocking at least 10% off the asking price.

Cheaper apartments tend to be less negotiable and dearer apartments tend to be far more negotiable but obviously it depends on many factors - take a Thai friend along for best results if you don't speak adequate Thai. Of the people that I know who have broken apartment contracts and left early, they have always lost their deposit, even if there was only one month to run - keep this in mind if you are unsure how long you are going to stay.

Other than this, Thai proprietors seem to be ok with returning deposits - at least in the experience of both me and my friends. If you are moving into an apartment building without any recommendations from people that you know and trust, it may be an idea to sign up for a minimum contract, just in case. Like many things in Thailand, you never know what might happen and it is nice top keep your options open.

The way the Thais live is a whole lot different to the way that we farangs reside. As the Thais generally have a far smaller salary, they will often live three or four to a usually small apartment. Such an apartment, typically 3,000 - 4,000 baht per month may even house an entire family. By night, the floor will have many fold away mattresses out as everyone fights for their space. In fact the Thais may even sleep two or three of the same family members in the one bed. Farangs living alone is just one of many things that the Thais do not understand about us. They find it particularly strange that we are not scared of ghosts at night...

[When first arriving, the cheapest place to stay is the backpackers ghetto on and around Kao San road. You can base yourself there while you look for a job and an apartment].
Thai People
by Stickman

There are many reasons why people decide to move to Thailand - the tropical weather, the exotic and paradise-like islands and beaches, the delicious food and the reasonable prices but the Thai people themselves are a huge attraction. Thai people are warm and friendly and seldom will you smile at a real Thai person and not receive a smile back. Certainly of all of the places that I have been lucky to visit around the world, I have never met a nation of people as genuinely warm and friendly as the Thais.

There is a real community spirit amongst the Thais. Thai people simply seem to get along with each other a whole lot better than people in other countries though exactly why this is, I'm not entirely sure. Where in the West there always seems to be all sorts of conflict between people, in Thailand these petty problems do not seem so prevalent. A classic example is in schools. In the West, bullying is a problem with the bigger, tougher kids often picking on the younger ones. This sort of nonsense bullshit does not occur in Thailand (though they do have some really fierce inter school battles with knives and guns as reported in the press from time to time)! You also see it in general communities where the everyday regular folks live. People will go well out of their way to help their neighbours, far more so than in the West. When cooking food, one person may cook extra and walk around the community, be it an apartment building, a village or wherever, and deliver bowls / plates of food to their neighbours. This all contributes towards creating a very warm spirit amongst the Thai people, a warmth that I have not seen in the West where the aforementioned infighting seems to prevail.

Thais are incredibly patriotic and love their country. Ask the average Thai where they would like to go for a holiday and they will usually say somewhere in Thailand, even if you state that money is not an issue. Hypothetically, give a Thai the option to emigrate to another country and they would usually turn it down. As one of my Thai teachers once said to me, "I feel very lucky to have been born in Thailand" and she then looked at me as if being born in the West was based on some sort of bad karma, a sin that I had committed in a previous life! The Thais really are happy in their own country and this contributes to making Thailand a really nice place to live.

Thai culture is extremely complex and even the most conscientious and diligent foreigners who have lived in country for a long time and have made an effort to understand as much as they can will inadvertently make cultural mistakes, yet Thai people are generally very tolerant of foreigners. Foreigners continually make cultural mistakes in Thailand, yet the Thais will more often than not waive these cultural errors, choosing to overlook them and continue to smile and be happy.

This happy go lucky attitude and the level of tolerance in Thailand makes it a very easy and pleasant place to live. To a certain extent, Thailand has isolated itself culturally, setting up a sort of way of distinguishing itself from so many other places, though they seem to realise that if they want to get on with things, they do need to be tolerant of those who do not understand Mother Thailand's ways.