Saturday, June 24, 2006

"GYPSY"

(homage to Motorcycle Nomad Gypsies legacy)

A teenage kid pumping gas at his dad's independent shop on outskirts of a little town looked up as sound of a motorcycle zapped him,and a lone rider on a big black Harley chopper bent into wind ''''rain, left an impression on him that would haunt him even when he'd got his own bike and chopped it in expressioin of his own individuality, as he'd do in the future.
The Biker was solely obsessed with finding a cheap motel,like,real goddam quick, as he was cold,wet,and dangerously numb and tired from eight hard hours rollin' down twisty,screwed up backroads.
He spotted a neon motel sign,turned in 'n' dismounted in front of the office. His eyes scouted out the place quickly,appreciatin' funkiness of the cabins,apparent scarcity of customers.
The proprietor,a guy in his thirties,stared at the bedraggled Biker as he came into the office,shook his head,said,"From the looks of you,you been havin' a tough go of it on that motorcycle of yours in that there shitty weather?"
"Y'got that right,mister. It's miserable out there! I'm beat 'n' cold,wet 'n' in serious need o' a hot shower 'n' a bed. Do be hopin' y'can help me out?"
"That's my business. Where y'comin' from?"
"Been doin' some house paintin' up in West Virginia…"
"Headin' somewhere particular or just goin'?"
"Jes goin'…"
"You with one of them outlaw clubs?"
"No sir,not me. Jes me 'n' m'machine…Ah,how much y'get for a night? Like I said,
I'm bone weary 'n'…"
"Aw,sure,sure,sorry t'be talkin' at you and bugging you with all these questions.It's just kind of lonely around here…"
"Hey,I understand, Ain't n'problem."
"$25.00'll do her."
"That's fine. Anywhere nearby I could get some chow?"
"Yup, about two miles down the road there's a honky tonk,they got burgers 'n'
ribs and all that kind of thing."
"Sounds perfect."
He walked into the cabin,threw down his gearbag,pulled off his old scarred
leather jacket 'n' cutoff made into his own personal colors,yanked off his boots,
fired up a cig,turned on the tube and slumped down on the bed,feeling the road weariness beginning to seep out of his pores.
He stripped,took a long,hot,euphoric shower,shaved,brushed his teeth,came
back into the room naked and stared at his hard,scarred,tattooed 48 year old body

In the mirror. His arms thick from years of hard work,be it wrenching on bikes,construction,house painting,welding,he'd done it all at one time or another.
His gallery of tattoos,all of his own design,although not full sleeves,were many and blended together to reflect his highly individualistic personal style and
perspective. His thick mahogany-colored hair hung down to his waist. His Face ruggedly handsome,burnt by wind and sun to a dark leathery swarthiness.
His Zapata mustache,unlike his hair,laced with silvery-gray.
He pulled out his other pair of Levis and a clean T-shirt. He'd hit a laund-
ramat in the morning and clean up the jeans,T-shirt and flannel shirt he'd been wearing.
He looked outside and dug that it was raining even harder,said,"Fuck it!"
He figured he'd cop a hearty breakfast in the morning. It wasn't as if he'd never gone hungry before. Over the twenty-four years he'd been a motorcycle nomad,there'd been many a time he'd gone hungry for one reason or another. Been many a night when he'd ended up sleeping like a wild dog in the bush or a ditch on side of the road for lack of anything else. That was part of the dues you paid in the life.
Wandering had always been integral to his experience. His granddad had given his dad an Indian Scout motorcycle for his sixteenth birthday. When WW II came his dad joined the Army,went to Airborne,and eventually worked for Military Intelligence
and usually got around on a Harley servi-car trike. At war's end,he bought a '45 Harley Knuckle and became a Motorcycle Gypsy just as his father had been,riding all over the American continent,drinking hard,fighting hard,blowing weed,making a living by any means. He was epitome of kind of Hipster Marlon Brando had wanted to depict in the legendary original Biker film "The Wild One". While cruising through
El Paso,he'd met Juanita Castananza; she'd climbed on his iron horse,after riding his bones,without a second thought and they roared off into the unknown future together.
He'd been born while his dad was doing a stint as a construction worker in Alburquerque. He'd grown up digging beBop and rock 'n' roll,weed,chicks,and his outraegeously Hip parents.
They'd live in a place for about 6 months,renting a po' trash trailer or shack, then they'd up and move on,his dad on his bike,his mom and him and his sister In their woody station wagon.
Like many of his generation and that of his mom and dad,after seeing Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin in "The Wild One",and mostly being his dad was a genuine Motorcycle Gypsy,as were all his closest friends,he was obsessed with motorcycles and Biker Mystique. At 14,he had a dirt bike that he rode into the ground. At 16.his dad gave him a Triumph and helped him chop it to his own personal taste.

He got drafted,did a tour in 'nam,came back irrevocably convinced the world was hopelessly fucked up and his only hope was to be in the wind,on a chopped hog,going his own individualistic way,avoiding and evading as much as possible all the ludicrous laws,greedy Robopathic people,that whole goddam sick societus,and carrying on the motorcycle Gypsy legacy that his dad had brought him up to love and respect as their own unique other culture.
He eventually sold his Triumph and copped a '69 XLCH Harley Sportster. He stretched the front downtubes of the frame 3 1/2",put a 10" over Springer front end with a 21" wheel;added a King Sportster gas tank;high chopper pullback handlebars mounted on 3" dogbone risers;a rolled aluminum oil tank;a solo saddle;and a 22" sissybar.
He'd work awhile,not very long,just enough to save a stash to get in the wind once again. Touring from Laconia to Daytona,to New Orleans,Seattle,Old
Orchard beach,coast to coast,north to south,making it as best he could,he lived and worked to maintain his machine and his motorcycle Gypsy lifestyle.Many of the friends he'd meet,fellow Bikers,shop owners and wrenches,remained friends for life,therefore,he never lacked places to go and folks to see.
He'd sort of tried settling down once. Passing through Tucson,he'd stopped in a saloon to down to down a few cold ones,and before long was rapping to a
very beautiful Apache Indian girl who lived on a commune. He gave her a ride there,checked out the scene and dug it,so ended up staying for two years.
They had a kid together,but drifted apart eventually.
He rented a trailer on the outskirts of Tucson,worrking at this and that.
Morning Star and their son T-Bird came down for awhile and they tried to get it together again but it just didn't work out.Wasn't like he didn't love the
woman and child,he did in his own peculiar way. Nor did he abuse them in any way. If he was rowdy and needed to get out his aggression,there were all
too many lowlife asshole men he could seek out and stomp. Bottom line was, his only real loyalty was to his machine and his motorcycle Gypsy lifestyle.
Actually,he probably wasn't really all that different from those first motorcycle Gypsies at the beginning of the century when they were riding
Harleys,Indians,Excelciors,Hendersons and other innovations on the emerging art of what is a motorcycle:a sculpture of iron that a person can mount and
ride everywhere in the world if so inclined.Like them,he was an adventurous and and restless man in what still remains the "Wild West".The motorcycle Gypsies, like their brothers the Hoboes,were a unique subculture bred of American soil,a nomadic subculture as profound in its folklore and lifeways as the Romany Gypsies and the nomadic Native American tribes,as well as the other nomadic cultures throughout the world.Being the kind of creative and intelligent individual he was,he was thoroughly aware of this.He felt he was part of and a participant in this continuing tradition,living it every moment.
Eventually he cut out of Tucson and headed south of the border into Mexico.
He loved Mexico.He ate plenty of chow,drank too much Mescal,smoked primo weed constantly,ate Teo Noncaital Sacred Mushrooms,geezed plenty of crystal, made the love with many fine brownskinned women.
He lived in San Felipe Pueblo in Oaxaca for awhile,then wandered over to Yucatan,up to Veracruz,and then further up through Texas,Oklahoma,Missouri,and then on East.
He ended up working as a wrench in a bike shop with an outlaw bro,Danny,in Connecticut.He'd go on runs with the clubs,but wouldn't join any even though he was more than welcome to.He'd make it with a chick for awhile,but it never lasted.It was as if he were cursed with the enigmatic brand of the lobo solo:
the lone wolf.
Then one night Danny went over the high side and died when his chopper went out of control on a rain slick I-95.He got in the wind once again.
His last period of downtime,which is what he considered those times when he was sedentary for awhile,had been in Misty Creek,in West Virginia.He'd gotten a gig as a house painter and had rented a dilapidated derelict house,amidst broken cars,washing machines,refrigerators,mutilated furniture,weeds growing densely, on the outskirts of town.
His decision to leave all that behind and be in the wind once again had started one dismal day,rain pounding down in torrents,howling banshee winds shrieking, whipping telephone lines,clothes hanging on backyard rigs.
His newest bike,a Knuckle chopper he and Danny had built,gleamed on the porch.
Inside the house,illuminated by kerosene lamps and huge candles,he'd been sitting in the remnants of a once stuffed chair,reading Lee Gutkind's "Bike Fever", a book that had become for him like a sacred text.It was especially on stormy days like that one,he'd read yet again the chapter on the history of motorcycle Gypsies,and it'd reaffirm his personal vision of how he and his life must be.
He'd taken a long hit on the thick joint,drawing the sweet pungent smoke deep into his lungs,down into his abdomen:the center of human willpower,digging it no end as it permeated his genitals and began to arouse the Kundalini Serpent which began to mystically writhe up his spinal column seeking release through the Magikal door of his crown chakra at the top of his skull,in other words,he was getting loaded,like,crazy!
He laid the book down,gazed out the window,his intense brown eyes piercing the veils of rain,the dark fog,experiencing visions of the Four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse riding past,only they looked like out of "Road Warrior" on their fierce sleek Harley choppers.
He slid a Warlock tape into the GB,giggling to "Kiss of Death" as he twisted another stick of weed.
He crashed for awhile,waking up hungry,horny amd restless.The rain still pounded down so he jumped in his pick up,cut into town to the Office Saloon,a
hard core Biker bar.He gulped down a shot of Corvaissier cognac and a bottle of Bud,wolfed down two bowls of Mama lee's chili.Another shot of cognac and a Bud and then he was into a game of pool with one of his bros,Johnny,from the Biker owned and operated house painting/construction business he worked for.
He punched Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" on the jukebox and slouched like Brando in "The Wild One",a Camel hanging from his lips,his eyes hooded and dreamy.He dropped the 8 ball,downed the shot and beer Johnny bought him.
"Wanna blow some weed,Gypsy,man?" Johnny asked.
"Sure thing,bro,"Gypsy answered in his rough muted nuances with a slight
Chicano accent.
They cut out back,squatted on the riverbank neath the shelter of a huge old weeping willow tree,passing a joint.
"S'what's the happenings wi' y',man?"Johnny asked.
"Nada mucho,hombre…I was hangin' in m'pad getting' fucked up 'n' crashed, woke up,had t' cut in here 'n' reassure m'self there be a life outside m'own lonely skin,y'dig?Thinkin' I'm due t' be in the wind again,like,real pronto."
"No shit?You ain't been here that long!"
"I'm never nowhere too long,bro.Dig it,I'm gonna be big 50 years old.I don't know how long I got left 'n' see,I'm feelin' like Jim Morrison laid it down,like,'I
wanna get m'kicks before this whole shithouse goes up in flames!' Thinkin' of cuttin' down to Mardi Gras 'n' maybe West again…maybe even back down to Mexico 'n' points south…I dunno…wanna be ridin' m'scoot all the time,kickback,Jack,thems the facts,y'dig?Time I saw m'folks again too…"
"Y'really are a Gypsy ain't you,man?"
"Y'got that right,bro.It's like,y'know that book I'm always rappin' about."Bike Fever" by this righteous bro Lee Gutkind?Well,man,anyways,in beginning he talks about the history of motorcycle Gypsies,hardcore nomad scooter trash,mostly older cats,who started out back in the '20s 'n' '30s when there was a shitload o' 'em roamin' around on their Harleys 'n' Indians 'n' all them other big ass first bikes,but it wasn't jes depression,dig,cause they'd been doin' it before 'n' after it,'n' they're doin' it now,man,they're the cats who've stayed free 'n' are pioneers o' this whole wild international Biker Subculture.
I relate t' that s'fuckin' much,man!I mean,fact is,I am a fuckin' third generation motorcycle Gypsy for real!It's in m'blood same as any nomad Romany Gypsy anywhere in this world!…That's why I gotta get in the wind again,bro,cause I really need independence 'n' self-respect…'n' like this other primo book"The Complete Motorcycle Nomad" says,like,Bikers are the last o' a breed,in tradition o' Apaches 'n' Sioux 'n' all other nomad Native Americans 'n' Romany Gypsies,Bedouin Arabs,all them tribes…Dig,for me,that's where it lives,'n' that's where I gotta be…"
The decision had been made while he was talking to johnny.The next day he'd sold the pick up to one of the guys he painted with,packed up his gear,and got in the wind.
He crashed and slept deep,and dreamed the interesting dreams he always had.He woke up refreshed and ready for more hard riding.He was ecstatic when he stepped outside and the sun was shining,the sky a deep turquoise blue,the air scented sweet.
He kicked the Knuckle into life and headed down the Road.A couple of hours later,Gypsy geared down and pulled into the parking area of a truckstop café.All eyes were on him as he entered,but he smiled and nodded and as usual with him, the citizens got the vibe that this was a good ol' boy even if he was a longhaired saddle tramp.He slid onto a stool,fluttered his eyes and clutched his heart historonically as the pretty young waitress came over and asked if she could help him.her face lightened up and she laughed as she studied the handsome leather-skinned Biker.
"Where you coming from?"She asked.
"Well,now,sister,do you mean that philosophically or literally?'
"What?"
"Sorry.Right now I'm comin' outta West Virginia."
"Going out West?"
"Yeah,eventually."
"Must be great…well,you want coffee or something?"
"Coffee for sure 'n' a steak dinner."
"Sure thing.What do you want with your steak and how do you want it?"
"Mash potatoes wi' gravy,carrots 'n' peas 'n' hot buttered corn bread…
steak rare."
"Hang in there.I'll tell the cook to fix you up with a trucker's hungry man special,OK?"
"You're a lady 'n' a scholar."
It didn't take Gypsy very long to wolf down the delicious hearty meal,and then he kicked back smoking,drinking coffee,and rapping to Janie,the waitress.
Then reluctantly sort of,he paid,told her he'd make sure he came by that way again sometime in the future,cut out and mounted up.He turned and waved to her before he kicked his ride into life and cut back onto the long black snake of highway.
Janie watched him disappear and felt a restlessness she'd never known before gnawing at her.
Gypsy didn't have the foggiest notion what his destination was.All he really knew was that he was truly of that rare breed,the motorcycle Gypsies.
He had his sunrise in the morning and his Moon at night.He stopped when he felt for it,and set up camp.He stopped when he needed to work as a painter,welder,a Wrench,or one of his various skills,to make enough bread to journey on.He was even putting together a book of photos and his writing,a kind of celebration of the nomad Biker lifestyle. He was a free man in a world progressively more complex and self-destructive and incarceratory.He felt that fantasy and reality had merged finally for him into a lifestyle permeated with legacy.He was like a troupadour during medieval times,bringing the Word to those who'd bend an ear and listen.
Like a weird kind of Johnny Appleseed,only he was planting the seeds of a survivalist nex millennium lifestyle.He was a self-made man who had the courage and conviction to make his stand.
And he was laughing as he screwed it on and raced toward the always elusive horizon…

Anticopywrite:Gypsy James-2003

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Teaching On The Internet

by Skald

A few folks have asked for more information about teaching English on the internet. So here goes:

First of all, realize that this takes time. Its a very slow building process to get students, do a good job with them, build word of mouth, etc. At the moment, Im nowhere near making a living at doing only this. On the other hand, teaching on the internet is a very pleasant, relatively easy, autonomous way to make a bit of extra money. In the future, who knows? I may be able to make most of my income in this way.

For a fairly detailed account of teaching English on the internet, and teaching English in general.. see the blog "Effortless Language Acquisition". In addition to the posts, check out the links.

A good place to start as a tutor is Tutopia. They have excellent internet teaching tools and a good system overall. They take a $10 cut, but I think thats a pretty fair price for what they offer.

Another option is to keep things simple and go with Skype. If you don't know, Skype is an internet phone service. It allows you to make international computer to computer calls for free. The great thing about Skype is that it allows for conference calls. Thus, you can have a group discussion with up to 4 students at one time. This allows you to charge more per hour while each student gets to pay less. Everyone wins. Ive enjoyed doing group discussions... and in many ways they are more interesting and more effective than one on ones.

Whichever tool you decide to use, the next step is finding the students. The best thing to do is register and advertise with online services or boards.

One such service is My Sensei, out of Japan. This is free for teachers. Students peruse the boards, and then must pay to get the contact info of a tutor they like. To be effective, you need to constantly renew your ad, so it stays near the top.

Another place to advertise is Craigslist. This link is to the main Bay Area website, but there are ones for many cities around the world. Some are more popular than others (The Bay Area's Craigslist is incredibly busy). Just post an ad under "classes" every week.

A very slow, longterm strategy... but an ultimately effective one... is to start an English Learning blog. Eventually, such a blog will attract students. The best (most popular and useful for students) are podcast blogs that provide audio and text. The best example is a podcast site called ESL Pod. This one is quite professional, but that's not entirely necessary. See English Conversations for another excellent example.

So that's about it.... a brief starters guide to teaching English on the internet. Be sure to check out my teaching blog (Effortless Acquisition) for more details... and email me (at my teaching blog email) if you have questions.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Greatest Loss


The Greatest Loss

July 26, 2005
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There is no shortage of news detailing the loss and destruction of our natural world. Clear cutting this, ozone depletion that, global warming here and there. No doubt it is happening right before our eyes and no doubt Homo sapiens {wise humans) are in large part, if not totally, responsible. There is also no doubt that we could do a better job of reversing these trends if we were so inclined. But that is not what is occupying my mind at this moment.

What is bothering me most is that there is something else we are losing- not just the potential medicines in the rainforests, or our protective ozone, not the climate we have grown pretty attached to in the last few thousand years, not the fisheries we are over exploiting and not even the biodiversity and habitats we are wiping from the Earth before we can catalogue and describe them much less understand their ecology or role in nature.

There is something perhaps more profound and yet altogether more subtle disappearing, quietly slipping away mostly unnoticed from the world we inhabit. That something is solitude. Or rather, a natural place in which to find solitude and escape from the all pervasive human commotion.

With the encroachment of humanity on almost every aspect of the globe it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a place where there are not other people around. It used to be that I could traipse a few hundred meters into my backyard and almost escape the noises of civilization and the screaming sounds of progress and economic growth.

Maybe a few cars would roll by during a full day on the dirt road where I lived in rural Georgia, now and again breaking the silence. But they would soon drive on and silence would boldly stake its claim once they passed. Not true anymore. That road is paved and a huge mall has been built with the accompanying mammoth parking lot full of folks too large and too lazy to park more than 100 meters from the door. Instead they drive around and honk incessantly until somebody pulls out and lets them in. In fact, that mall is the biggest mall in the Southeastern United States I am told.

And its not just there, but everywhere I turn. Everywhere I used to hunt grey squirrel and white tail deer or fish for trout, bream and catfish is now a development of some sort, a strip mall or a subdivision full of cookie cutter houses. Those unfettered places are disappearing rapidly, nearly gone. Nowadays I have to travel farther (in my oil consuming transport) to escape the buzzes and whirls of my fellow human beings.

Well, so what?

I dont think its any coincidence that many of the great prophets and gurus throughout human history have had some sort of epiphany during an episode of solitude in a forest or desert. They essentially went out and sat for a while- quietly alone. They communed in silence. Then they brought back messages and insights so far reaching that we are still living by them today, thousands of years later.

It seems to me that silence and solitude are the key ingredients to reaching a higher self- a self more in tune with the surrounding universe- a life enlightened to the infinite. Im no prophet but I too certainly crave that sort of thing once in a great while.

These days I live in Malaysia, a country on the fast track to development and first world status. As the construction hits full speed ahead, Malaysias wild places are disappearing faster than free ice cream at Wal-Mart on a scorching Sunday afternoon. And there isnt much end in sight. Kuala Lumpurs skyline is dotted with cranes. Along with those implements of construction come the requisite sounds of a country undergoing birth pangs. The jack hammers, drills, tractors, earth movers and Bangladeshi workers start their squealing and squawking in the early morning and wail on into the evening hours. More often than not they drown out the songs of cicadas, tree frogs and jungle crickets I am sometimes privy to hear in my back yard, an increasingly rare undeveloped Malaysian rain forest. The human made noises invade the recesses of my mind and attack my psyche. There is no escape.

Even when I retreat to the backwoods of a national park I still hear the whiz of jets flying overhead burdened with Asians making a sojourn to or from Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta or some other desperately busy location. If I dont hear that then I see a row of pink plastic garbage bags and wooden disposable chopsticks. The human footprint is everywhere. Thats business I reckon. Or at least business in a large scale consumer oriented infinite growth economic model.

Its undeniable; the intrusive stamp of humanity reaches far and wide. As the developments increase and the population grows, solitude seems to spring just out of sight like a white tail buck with his white flag raised high as a warning signal to anyone or anything that cares to take notice.

I, for one, am taking notice and Ive caught a glimpse of what is to come. If these trends continue and the population keeps increasing I know what will happen. Ive seen it. The future I have witnessed is in present day Java. I lived on Java for six months often wondering how a place could be so crowded.

Java is one of 18,000+ islands in the Indonesian archipelago and has the distinction of being the most densely populated island on the planet. With over 800 people per square kilometer Java has roughly 25 times more people per square kilometer than the United States. Not only that, but almost every square inch of the island has been developed.

On Java people live on the side of the road, people scrunch into villages, folks jam in to the angkots and people crowd into the dimly lit streets at night. People are everywhere on Java! Dont get me wrong. The folks there are as friendly as can be and most of the time I ignored the wall to wall human mob. If I had to choose between living in the densely crowded Javan society and the urban nightmare known as Los Angeles Id chose Java in a New York minute. But even though they were friendly once in a while I wanted to escape, except there was nowhere to escape to. Everywhere I wanted to go was inhabited. The few places that werent over crowded were too far away for a quick getaway and required a major expedition. So much for meditating, communing with nature, finding myself or connecting with my spirit, those ideas fluttered out the window. I finally got worn out by all the hullabaloo.

Eventually, I retreated back to a less crowded Kuala Lumpur only to discover that even though there were less people, there was more construction so that more people could live here if they wanted to. Once again, thats business I reckon.

The population has doubled in my lifetime from about 3 billion souls in the 1970s when I was a kid to over 7 billion folks our green globe is sporting around the solar system today. Ive noticed it and felt the effects already. I remember a time a few decades ago when the streets werent so crowded and the malls werent so proliferate. The population explosion is real and measured in real time. I dont think I’m alone in being alarmed at this.

I believe that humans need solitude and quiet as much as food, shelter and even oxygen. In the latter part of the 20th century we began sprinting up the slippery slope of the population J-curve. As that reality sets in and we chop down the remaining 1% of virgin forest on our blue sphere while filling the air with the clamor and chatter of progress, we run the risk of letting those places that offer solitude vanish.

Solitude and silence are quietly slipping away unnoticed, our only consolation being that we are left alone in the world with our own chatter and background noise as our sole companion. With all of this we know that unless we do something fast and wake up to the call of silence silently screaming for our attention the retreat behind constructed walls will continue. No longer will we be able to withdraw to a quiet wild place devoid of human influence. Our ability and quite possibly our desire for introspection and self discovery in a feral landscape filled with quiet will be gone. And that, to me, is the greatest loss of all.

-Matt

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Working From Home

by Skald

Recently Ive begun to teach English over the internet, using Skype. I've talked to students in Japan, Taiwan, Canada, the US, Germany, Sweden, and England. I find it very gratifying to chat with folks from all over the world, and to have a student clientele that is scattered all over the globe.

Even more gratifying is being able to work from home. What decadent luxury! I open the curtains wide, open the window, kick back in a chair, put on my headset... and "work". My headset has a very long cord, so its no problem to move around the (tiny) apartment, get something to drink, lay on the bed, etc. And when Im done teaching, Im done.... no one to answer to.

Nor do I ever have someone looking over my shoulder or monitoring me in any way. What happens is between my student clients and I and thats it. Its a wonderful feeling.

Interestingly, my sister works for a big mega-corporation and yet she too has a work at home arrangement. She's been doing it for years now. The company supplies her with a laptop and high-speed line. She uses that to organize and manage projects, chat with customers, chat with co-workers, etc. They also put in a land line at her house.

So while she still has a "corporate job"... she has an amazing amount of freedom and flexibility. She recently had a baby, and can now work in her home "office" and have the baby right beside her. She can take as many breaks as she wants for needs. She dresses how she wants. Like me, she has no boss looking over her shoulder.. micro managing every minute of her work day.

As corporate jobs go... its not a bad arrangement.

In some ways these situations remind me of Gandhi's praise for cottage industries. Perhaps it is now possible to have a high tech "cottage industry" in your tiny little apartment... or even in your van?

Perhaps its easier to be a "young homeless professional" than every before.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Jessica

Today is Jessica's Birthday. For those of you who knew her, I encourage you to take some time to think of her, and perhaps visit her memorial website :)


JessicaJessica's Memorial Website


I will always feel grateful to have known & loved her.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Waking Up From The Suburban Nightmare

by Skald

You know, this simple housing issue has ramifications that go far beyond our individual lives. The truth is, my father's massive McMansion is not just a personal choice. That house, and the entire suburban lifestyle it represents, comes with tremendous costs... costs that all of society must pay, not just my father. In truth, the suburban nightmare is subsidized by all of us... by force. We are forced to pay local, state, and national taxes. These taxes pay for the suburban infrastructure. They pay for the miles of highways, for the miles of water lines, for the miles of electrical lines. In truth, that McMansion costs a helluva lot more than what the buyer actually pays.

And Im only mentioning the economic costs. The suburban nightmare also carries severe ecological costs. Forests, wetlands, streams, rivers, and farmland are destroyed. Small communities are bulldozed and replaced by sterile boxes.

And the whole damn thing depends completely on the automobile. Suburbs dont have public transportation (certainly not viable public transportation).

As such, this kind of obscenely luxurious living may be endangered, as James Kunstler predicts on his blog-
http://www.kunstler.com/:


" I try to avoid the term "peak oil" because it has cultish overtones, and this is a serious socioeconomic issue, not a belief system. But it seems to me that what we are seeing now in financial and commodity markets, and in the greater economic system itself, is exactly what we ought to expect of peak oil conditions: peak activity.

After all, peak is the point where the world is producing the most oil it will ever produce, even while it is also the inflection point where big trouble is apt to begin. And this massive quantity of oil induces a massive amount of work, land development, industrial activity, commercial production, and motor transport. So we shouldn't be surprised that there is a lot happening, that houses and highways are still being built, that TVs are pouring out of the Chinese factories, commuters are still whizzing around the DC Beltway, that obese children still have plenty of microwavable melted cheese pockets to zap for their exhausting sessions with Grand Theft Auto.

But in the peak oil situation the world is like a banquet just before the tablecloth is pulled out from under it. There is plenty on the table, but it is about to be overturned, spilled, lost, and broken. There's more oil available then ever before, but also so many people at the banquet table clamoring for it that there is barely enough to go around, and the people may knock some things over trying to get it.

A correspondent in Texas writes: "On a four week running average basis, total US petroleum imports (crude + products) have been falling since 2/24/06, until last week, when we finally showed an increase of 1.3 percent, after bidding the price of oil up by about 20 percent. IMO, we bid the price up enough to (temporarily) increase our imports. We will see what subsequent weeks show, but I think that we are in the early stages of a bidding war for remaining net export capacity. The interesting question is what countries may not be importing because they can't afford the oil."

A substantial amount of total house sales are made up of new suburban McHouses built in places at the furthest extreme distance from employment centers -- because that's where the remaining cheap land is after sixty-odd years of suburban development. How many prospective house-buyers will close on those things with gasoline over $3 a gallon? Probably fewer than are required to sell them all. And more McHouses will be coming on the market in any case because they are products of a planning and permitting process that takes years for things to finally get built. Once the house-selling racket, and its associated mortgage racket, stop grinding along, the machinery of the US economy has to seize up. The financial sector, which used to be an appendage of the economy, but has become an end in itself, has to implode when the stream of rebundled securitized mortgage debt stops flowing into it.

When tablecloths are pulled out from under banquet tables, it is hard to say how the platters, bowls, and ewers will tumble and fall, but we can bet that few if any of them will land right-side up, unspilled. One also has to wonder how the other people at the table are going to behave when things come tumbling down. "

Rat Bikes

Rat Bikes Are No-Nonsense.

Motorcycles? Sure - they use less fuel than cars, and motorcycles are easier to maneuver, park etc. But, deep down, the True Secret is: Motorcycles Are Fun. That's it! That's why we ride them, all the rest is just so much rationalizing. And Ratbikes are the ultimate distilled evolution of motorcycling: No Bullsh*t involved. Just do the minimum to keep them healthy and Ride. Let your bike wear it's visual history with pride. No time consuming cleaning, washing, polishing, adding shiny parts that do nothing. None of that, forget about it! Embrace The Pure and Essential Essence of Riding - Ride A Ratbike!

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If you ask a person on the street what a biker is, he or she will inevitably describe a guy sporting a ZZ Top beard and beer gut, riding a chromed-out Harley chopper. Or this person might offer a portrait of sportbikers, guys on high-performance Japanese bikes with cryptic alphanumeric designations wrapped in cocoons of bright plastic, often wearing shorts and tennies. Somewhere between these two extremes, though, a new urban motorcycle culture has formed, and at its center is the rat bike.

"A rat bike generally means any motorcycle that is in a shitty order of repair but is still being ridden by some broke fuck," says Paul, a biker from San Francisco via England, New York City, Arizona, and parts in between. "It's got to be kind of dirty and old and decrepit. It could be your girlfriend's CB 750, covered in stickers and paint, with mismatching bodywork. It could be your buddy's F2 ex-race bike – 'Only raced once, guv'ner, honest' – with no bodywork and so many scratches and dings on it that [you can tell] he hasn't got loads of money."

"Everybody gets their bikes from some crashed squid motherfucker." Translation: rats are scavengers, living off the superfluity of the wasteful classes, surviving at street level on their wits.

"The whole symbology of the Rats was kind of a religion for me," Slick says. "Here's this life of salvage that we've made. Nothing was good enough for anyone else, but it was always good enough for us to fix, then beat the shit out of until it's gone, so it doesn't last anymore, then step up and get the next good thing, you know?

"All those guys up at the Wall [a meeting spot for racer types in Tilden] had full leathers and bright sportbikes, and all the Harley guys were racist backwards hicks. But all my friends rode motorcycles, and we all had our own style of motorcycles, which was to paint 'em flat black and trick 'em out the way we do. Not putting money into anything to make 'em look fancy, just putting money into souping them up, otherwise letting them go to hell. Always repairing things with JB Weld and duct tape. Baling wire. And from there it just escalated."


But unlike streetfighters, super motards, and standards, a rat isn't pretty. At least not in a conventional way: it has a face only a mother can love, the vehicular equivalent of a droopy-jowled bulldog or clipped-eared pit bull. The true rat was born of economics: if you're a bar back or motorcycle messenger, living in a city with one of the highest rent rates in the world, what can you do to keep your bike on the road? You may not be from the ghetto, white boy, but you live there now, and the bike under your haunches is a testament to urban survival.

(snippets -- full article at Rat Bikes