A chronicle of the whimsical jaunts of this guy as he goes around some foreign places looking for food.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Everyday is getting further and further between days

Again, apologies for the gaps.

Back through Copenhagen; breezed through. Mostly fond of my time in Berlin.

We stayed with a girl Cameron had known as an exchange student from High School. Now, 10 years after the fact, was gracious and kind enough to let us stay in her apartment for a few days. Berlin is an amazing city, with ultra-modern office buildings and consulates perched next to half-century old bullet hole marked buildings. Graffiti peppers the entire landscape, on every imaginable place, even the restrooms and stairwells of 'respectable' restaurants. Squatter clubs appear and disappear every few years in former East Berlin neighborhoods, only to be shut down, and reappear 6 months later in another unoccupied building. The streets are full of friendly young adults commuting on bikes. The subways and above-ground rails are fast and ever present.

However, the strains of the city's bisection are still visible. Some old East buildings don't have gas heating; adventurous and broke residents still heat with coal. Drab apartment buildings tower on the landscape, framed by uncountable construction sites. The city is progressive and growing, even in the face of wide-spread unemployment. A fascinating place to visit, and I surmise an amazing place to settle for a few months.

A comical interlude --
After getting out of the Checkpoint Charlie museum (chronicling the history of the Wall) Cameron and I sat at an Italian restaurant up the street to relax our throbbing feet. Afterwards we made our way to the 'Topography of Terror' one of the only historical sights about the 3rd Reich. It's all outdoors at the demolished foundation of the 'People's Court' building that summarily sentenced thousands of political dissidents to death sentences. In the middle of the grotesque yet fascinating history lesson, intensely crippling gastrointestinal pains began to hit me. Seeing as how there was a museum adjacent to the site, we made our way, noticing that there was an enormous line out the door of the building. Cameron quickly asked the doorman where we could find a toilet. He points to the building across the street.

The building, which isn't identified by a sign, is under renovation (like, it seems, a quarter of the buildings in Europe during the summer). We approach the building, guarded by a lone Polizei officer, and the giant glass doors open for us automatically. We step into the foyer, noticing the place looks like some sort of museum, but it's closed. The lights were half off, and the information desk was vacant. My intestines not letting me be deterred we searched frantically for the nearest bathroom. Luckily, it was within a few meters of the door and we were able to avert appreciable disaster.

Emerging from my quick escape, Cameron was ready to answer the burning question: what is this place? She hands me a brochure, smiling, which reads: German Parliament, House of Representatives. From here on, I will profusely be grateful to my savior the German Parliament.

With that, I should release this terminal. More of Prague awaits. A small, old city, saved from the ravaging bombs of the Second Great War, recently released from the bonds of Soviet Communism. More on this later.

Capt. C

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Playing catch-up, full of mustard

Time to bring things up to speed. Since Cameron joined me in Europe, everything has been put into overdrive. Having another person along with your certainly increases the amount of sights you are motivated to see in a day.

Sweden came and went. Stockholm is a large and beautiful city. It certainly geared itself well for masses of shoppers. The main drag of what used to be the Old Town, Hotorget, is now a franchised-out, busting-at-the-seems shopping street. It is built on three levels, all cross-crossing one another, over and under and disappearing into the side of a hill. The topography of the 'center' of the city is a tiny archipelago squashed between two land masses to it's north and south. The north part is by far the most modernized, where the south it's much quieter and more residential.

When Cameron arrived we move to Langholmen, a former Swedish prison to the south of the city. The room was small, but modern. The mirror in the main room is tall and thin, and it looks to be shaped like a guillotine. They have a whole museum tracing the history of the prison, up to it's closing in the 70s in favor of a larger prison. If my memory serves, it had to have been 300 years old. For a good portion of it's existance, the prison was turned into a textile factory, whereby the state and the prison guards, got extremely wealthy from the profits. The small harbor surrounding the prison is actually quite beautiful, and it houses a good number of small boats from the residents surrounding.

We stayed back in the city for the last night. We tried to catch a few museums to make the tourist experience a valid one. We took a ferry out to one of the Islands in the harbor separating the north and south. I believe it was called Djurgarden, and it is home to an aquarium, a zoo and a few other museums. Most of interest was the Vasamuseum, chronicling the construction and subsequent destruction of 17th Century Scandanavia's most elaborate and expensive warships. Unfortunately, it's maiden voyage lasted only 40 minutes as there was not enough ballast in the bottom of the boat. A few gusts of wind blew is over, it capsized and sank, killing 50 people.

It wasn't until the 1950s that the ship was lifted back up from the bottom of the sea floor. It was remarkably well preserved as the restoration process took almost 25 years. More than 90% of the ship is intact, the rest being reconstructed using methods similar to the era. On the whole it was quite fascinating, and nigh intimidating to stand at the bow and look up. One also got the distinct impression that living on board a ship such as that would be horrific. Quite remarkable.

After that, back to Copenhagen, which is where I am now.

But, enough with the kibitzing, it's time to catch the train to Berlin (and to cheaper beer). More on the way.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Misirlou... the IE textbox cache is going overboard

Much speedy wickedness happening. Oslo came and went. I only spent two nights there, but enough to know that I would definately want to return to visit again.

In Oslo, I stayed in a neighborhood just north of the center of the city called Grunnenlokka. It's aparently the hip, young neighborhood. I stayed at the flat of an old 70-something guy named Arve Naess. He rents out three or four rooms in his 4 story building just at the edge of a nice park. He spoke barely enough English to get by, as was evidenced by the little signs he had written and posted throughout the apartment directing 'Tourist' visitors to clean up after themselves. He was very kind as I arrived just before 11 at night (because of the aforementioned delay in Sweden). The room was very small, but quaint. Adjacent to the only bathroom in the flat, the room was covered in cryptically grammatized (my made up word) tourist warnings and peppered with framed pictures of old sailing ships. There was a small television in the room atop a wooden entertainment center brimming with Norweigen celebrity magazines, all at least a year old. All in all, it was cozy, and the price was right, about the same as I would have paid at any of the city's hostels.

Since I had been travelling for the whole day, I was a bit wired, so I wandered about the happening hood to hit a few bars. Norweigen beer is nothing to write home about (so I won't... damn, I already did) so I did a bit of surveying. I got a delicious Calzone (apparently very popular in Oslo) at the corner late night bakery and made my way to the large park next to my building. It was about midnight, but there were a good 3 dozen kids all barbeque, drinking beers and chatting away happily. Even though Oslo is very far north, there was still close to no light out, but that didn't seem to matter. After cruising around a bit, I decided to turn in.

I sauntered quietly up the steep stairs to my rented flat, and after a bit of tipsy navigation, found the door. However, my key wouldn't open the door. I tried for a solid half hour to make it work, but I reluctantly resolved to ring Mr. Naess for his help. The door directly across the hall from mine read 'Naess' on the little metal placard next to the buzzer, so I naturally assumed it must've been his. I rang 3 times, waiting a good five minutes for a response. Then a woman's shrill voice shot out asking what I wanted. Stunned I told her I was looking for Arve. She began to explain that he didn't live there, that he lived upstairs. I walked to the next floor, to see that both doors on the floor had placards reading 'Naess.' It was obvious that the whole family lived in the building.

Arve's son came out in his skivvies and tried to help me, himself unable to pry the door open. Then, seeing no other alternative, he woke his 'Papa' by pounding on the door and belting out some Norweigen. Needless to say, the situation was resolved, and I tried to tell the old man to apologize to his son and daughter for me, but I had the feeling that this may have happened before. It was an alltogether embarassing scene, forcing grown men to entreat into the hallway in their knickers, but they were all polite and understanding (in a broken-English sort of way).

The next day, my first full day in Oslo, was of course beautiful. It's a great city (albiet a little expensive) and surprisingly the least kempt of the Scandanavian cities I had seen so far. The real meat of the city was so small, it was a comfortable walk to see all of the salient sights. It was quite enjoyable. Oslo would be my first choice to return to next time in Scandanavia.

In Stockholm now and looking forward to meeting Cameron here tomorrow evening. The sky is the limit.

I'll be off now to find some fuel.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Interview with the Mother of the first Freeborn

Today I'm stuck in Goteborg, Sweden at the train terminal. Thank goodness for all of these ubiquitous cheap internet terminals... keeping in contact with the English-speaking word is definately a plus. I took the 8:30 AM train from Copenhagen with the intent of skipping right onto the train to Oslo, Norway. However, unbeknownst to me, there was construction/repair being done to the rails somewhere between hither and thither, so a good hour and a half of the ride was transferred to the bus line. Well, I didn't know this upon getting here, so I missed the bus to Thorrland (or something like that). Annoying as it is, the only thing I can do is read the Rail schedule book I have, try to plan it as conservatively as possible, and hope there aren't any monkeywrenches thrown.

So, while I wait a couple, three, four hours, I should probably digest last night visiting Copenhagen. Last night, I went to dinner at a great steak place near the Tivoli amusement park downtown. I had a 1 liter flute of their homebrewed beer (which they took my left shoes and gave me a wicker clog as a deposit, just in case I was too drunk to remember to pay my tab) and decided I would hit up a few more sights before I headed back to the haystack. I made my way to Christianhavn, which is the place where most of the palaces and royal building are. It's basically a harbor, or was a harbor, bisected by an inlet from the sound. Two bridges cross over the river to the island that the majority of Christianhavn is housed. Along with the quite modest castles on the island is the infamous "free city" of Christiania.

Christiania is basically a commune started in September 1971 by a bunch of free-wheeling hippies, back when the world was tolerant of their types. The city, really just a dirt roadway splattered with a few dozen buildings (old and new) running through a semi-parklike area. Since it's inception, a commune based around (of course) peace and tolerance has stood. It actually declared it's independence from the rest of Denmark when it was created. There is actually a sign as you leave the city that reads: 'You are now enter EU.' The place has been, among other things, an area from which anyone could go and purchase soft drugs (marijuana or hashish) and generally sit around willy-nilly in your skivvies. Think of it as a Scandanavian Golden Gate park. However, several years ago, when a new political party gained a foothold on the Danish parliament, it decided to try and clean up the place a bit. Most of the literary sources I've read acknowledged that a large part of the motivation for this came from pressure from the United States threatening to revoke it's 'Most Favored Nation' trade status. So, they came in a few years ago (4 or 5 years, not sure really) and took away all of the stands (on Pusherstreet) that were overtly advertising the sale of soft drugs. Of course, this was a major change, as Christiania had existed almost as it was originally for over 25 years. The stands disappeared, but the dealers are still there. Now it's common to see groups of 4 or 5 police officers casing down the main drag several times a day, handing out fines for possession or use.

I arrived at Christiania a bit late, probably after 8 PM, and it looked as if most of the days activity was winding down. There were several places blasting loud music, stands selling hamburgers, plenty of bars and an uncountable number of dogs running around freely. I saw the same kind of people you's expect to be roaming around Haight-Ashbury or Lithia Park. Of course, there were a lot of kids (teens to 20s types) there as well. Mind you the drinking age in Denmark is 16. The pushers were certainly there and visible, they just seemed to be keeping it on the downlow. I hung around for a bit, had a Tuborg (Denmark's most popular beer next to Carlsberg), played with a few of the rambuncious dogs and was on my way out. I was strolling on another path trying to find my way out, and I caught the site of an older woman sitting on a wooden bench behind one of the courtyards blasting a sort of Reggae/HipHop blend. Having got pretty much blank stares or averted eyes from everyone else who seemed at home there, I thought I would try to ask her a few questions.

I didn't know it at first, but this woman was living in the village at the beginning of it's inception in 1971. Her name is Kirsten Harwood, a Native Dane, and still a resident in the area of Christianhavn outside of the commune. We were able to strike up a fairly long and insightful conversation as her English was quite good. She said that she had learned English in Australian, where she had lived for 2 or 3 years in her youth. She was a window-dresser by trade, in the days that a window-dresser could make a living in a city. She got very much caught up with the quest to live free and with as much love for her fellow man (or woman) as possible. She and a few other hundred people established the city of Christiania on the site of an abandoned military base. Unfortunately, the soil was polluted from the chemicals dumped on the base, so they could never grow their own food in the village. She recalls spending all day sitting outside, playing music and singing in large groups, and planting the city's gardens. She lived in the city for the first 8 years of it's existence, at which time I gathered she married someone and moved out of the city. However, she was pregnant when she first lived in the city and actually gave birth to the first-born son of Christiania.

I actually met her son (who seemed more interested in playing with a puppy and tending to his "business transactions" than talking) who had been living in Christiania for all 34 years of his life. Kirsten seemed very proud of her son as well as another son, whom she said was aged 17, and also very happy to still have Christiania to come and relax in while her apartment was unbearably hot from the beating summer sun. She seemed very content to sit and watch the trees and reminisce about the "old days." She didn't seem at all concerned with the drug culture, but explained to me the significance of the symbol that was painted next to the marijuana leaf on the side of a building. It's a pictograph of a fist smashing a need to pieces. She talked about how the heroin nearly tore the community apart some years ago. She said that the responsible citizens all banded together (physically, linking their arms together and cornering the accused) to banished them from the community. It seemed like an inspiring act of unity, especially to protect the use of marijuana which she exclaimed "is much less worse than alcohol." Mostly she seemed very concerned that the Danish government is attempting to plan to demolish the village in January of next year to make way for trendy, expensive apartments. She crooned with so much passion as she said: "They can't take it away, they just can't!" waving her fist in the air.

I was so astounded and felt very lucky that I ran into this woman who was so willing to share the personal history of the place. I got the sense from her that the recent demolition of the pusher stands and the frequent visits by the police (whom she dislikes strongly because they give her "bad vibrations, like the Beach Boys, but bad instead of good") are signalling the slow end of this incredibly unique and marvelous place. I truly felt like this was an instance where the judgements of foreigners, like the Americans, were truly wrong and the only reason why this place is in jeopardy of being shut down is because as it exists, it is a challenge to the hypocritical and draconian drug policies that the West wishes to instill upon the rest of the world. In as much as we would want those not from our home to not direct our behaviors, ideas and ways of life, so do the citizens of the last Free State, Christiania.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Losing a day here and there...

My apologies for the delay in posting. I was actually travelling from Amsterdam to Copenhagen (or KĂžbenhavn as it's more rightfully known) on the NachtZug (or night train) for about 15 hours. It was quite an experience. Sleeping sitting up is not altogether different than on an airplane, a little easier, but still difficult. Travelled with two sets of dirty Americans: the first, Austin and Sara, fresh out of college in Vermont and are set to be travelling for 4 months. They were hopping around Europe separately with the intent of meeting up later (as I am with Cameron). The second: Sam and Becky (I think) from Oregon (Portland Area) still in college, naive but adventurous still. Also travelling with the above two was a guy (whose name I didn't catch) from Davis, CA who had been studying abroad in Copenhagen for the past year. It was quite fascinating to have these short jaunts of interaction with the expectation that you will probably never see them again. It's exciting, but a little disheartening as well.

Because of this, I most certainly am looking forward to meeting up with Cameron in Stockholm. I realize (and if I stated this previously, I apologize) that I may not be as ready to be travelling alone as I had originally thought. It does take a feat of mental fortitude that I am still trying to master.

I stayed at the Sleep-in-Green hostel just north of city. I was in a room with 20 beds or so, and probably got a good 10 hours of sleep. It was rather sparse, but had a cozy little common area with VCR and Television. I tried to watch some bad move with Christopher Walken (YOU GOTTA RESPECT THE WALKEN!) called 'Reporter in the Warzone' or something like that. The subject was Walken, playing Don Stevens, the sensationalist TV reporter from ABS news, covering the civil war in Beirut in the early 80s. Highlights of the film, watching Walken attempt to pretend to be scared of gun fire, running comically from gun fire, and hearing him refer to Yassir Arafat as "Mr. A" in his silly voice. I would normally shy away from killing valuable sightseeing time with watching bad Eighties movies, but I was exhausted yesterday and will be back through Copenhagen with Cameron next week or so. I was so exhausted that yesterday, while waiting for the lockout period in the Hostel to end, I fell asleep on a shady bench by the river.

Tonight I'll be staying at a fairly affordable, modern looking hotel called the Cabb-Inn, right down the street from the train station. I think it's good for me to mix up the hosteling with the hoteling, as it can be very draining sleeping in the same place as 20 other kids.

Last night was the last day of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. I am a bit sad that I didn't get to see more, but I saw about 4 great acts ranging from lounge jazz to some wicked experimental jazz to a dixie-land style marching band. These Danes know how to boogie. It seemed like everywhere I walked, I could faintly hear the distant playing of another act, in fact, that's exactly how I found all of them.

It's terribly hot here, which was not the case down in Amsterdam. I feels a great deal like SoCal. I came here to be cold, not to be warm! After I get my hotel room, I may consider trying to find a swimmin' hole.

Enough of this idle chit-chat, adventure awaits... in the form of a nice, cold glass of Carlberg.

I'm Audi 5000!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

On my way out...

Just waiting by Amsterdam Centraal before I leave on the overnight train to Copenhagen. In a way, I'm grateful to be leaving. Amsterdam is, for the most part, a beautiful tourist trap. I was lucky to have found ways to avoid the ubiquitous buses and tour groups, but, alas, I feel it is time to move on.

Perhaps being on a train for 10 hours will heighten my appreciation for dry land. I'll go north, where it's colder, and gets dark later. It's already strange to my circadian rhythms that it gets light at 5:30 and stays that way until 11:00, it will be even stranger when I travel a few hundred miles north. I'll be a Stranger in a Stranger Land.

Does the world really like McDonalds all that much?! I, for one, can't stomach it anymore, despite the years of strength training I had in my youth. It makes me physically ill. To be honest, the Scandanavian cuisine has been pretty bland so far, so that might be one explanation to it's popularity. To give you some clue as the extent of the blandness, the most flavorful Dutch dish I've sampled was the pea soup... not saying much. Makes me want to go back to Split Pea Andersons when I'm back in California. If I remember correctly, the Split Pea Andersons along Hwy 99 (not the one along I-5) has cute cartoon placards tracing the royal lineage of the Dutch monarchy. The culture here, as well as the climate, could not be more opposite than that of Central Valley California.

The homogeneity of the European peoples, as is expressed by the immigrant chimeras of America, is baffling. I figure that I must be, some small part, northern European. If not, at least some people that I know much be as well. However, despite those Morrocans, Pakistanis, Japanese, Turkish and Middle-Upper Asians who have integrated themselves in a Dutch lifestyle, the phenotype of Dutch physiology is just as you'd expect. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed, sharp facial features. I can distinct recognize the physical difference between them and say, a Brit or a German. They are unique. Such an immediate (and granted, hasty) approximation, is clearly full of holes, but stands for at least simple analysis. In short, they are a melting pot, but have retained a substantial sense of self-identity.

Well, enough of that heady nonsense. I should apologize, some persons have been urging that I attempt to upload some pictures. Unfortunately, these internet cafes don't give me the ability to access my CF cards at these terminals. It will have to wait. You can be sure that as soon as I get access, I'll post a few morsels.

Often wrong,

Friday, July 08, 2005

Still safe... getting safer


Yes, the almighty Golden Calf of CNN brought me the news of the latest tragedy. And, yes, I am fortunate that I'm not travelling through London or parts near. I do believe as long as I stay in countries that DON'T have troops in Iraq, I think I'll be sufficiently safe. There are very few countries in Europe that do not have a bourgeoning Muslim population, but the fire is being fueled by some of these government's refusal to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

As a parallel to this, I witnessed a quite atrocious scene when trying to make my reservations at the Amsterdam Central station today. A hulk of a 200-pound Irish-American (more American than Irish... only identified as Irish by the Shamrock tattoo) came and threw down his enormous pack on the floor next to me as I sat in the International Ticket Office. I had a good 20 minutes more waiting left to do, and he began to look ever more impatient, rifling violently through his day pack and nearly assassinating his water bottle when trying to put it back in his back. He became so impatient that he lept out of his seat and approached the nearest counter out of turn. I couldn't quite make out what he was saying.

Then his voice began to rise. He was talking about missing his train by only 3 minutes. Then he screamed "97 Euros! I don't have that much money! All this because I miss the train! Let me see the Manager!" Apparently he thought that by raising his voice and posing his body in various threatening stances would make the laws of the Universe (or at least European rail pricing) change. This went on for another 10 minutes or so, as he emptied out (what seemed to be) the remaining currency he had in his pockets. I must conclude that he got what he wanted, and doing it in the most insulting and obnoxious way possible. Despite the unusually cool-headed and understanding ticket agent, I can't help but think that situations like these do more cumulative damage to America's reputation than the droves of unassuming tourists who pass indifferently by. As I left, I walked over to the Ticket agent and apologized for his rude behavior, as it offended me more than it did her, no doubt.

Meter is running low.

I'll catch you again all.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Stuck in Lodi... Amsterdam... again

Apparently this place was the wealthiest city in the world in the 16th Century. By the opulence and grandeur of the buildings around, that's not hard to believe. For a country which decides to, instead of attempting to legislate and police universal "problems" such as soft drug crime and prostitution, they legalize them and contain them. Although the right and correct American way of dealing with the problem is spending billions of dollars policing and prosecuting soft drug crime, and yet they still haven't beaten the menace. It's all so ridiculous when you break it down. Why not just make all forms of intoxicant illegal? Tobacco, alcohol, pain-killers? Try and see how effective that would be.

The most significant problem in Amsterdam, from my relatively uninformed eyes, seems to be petty theft. The city posts hilarious cartoon signs warning people to watch their bags and keep their eyes open. Other than that, the greatest public issue seems to be the dogs that run around and defecate on the streets with impunity. As an Ambassador from the great nation of America, I propose that we legislate special police units to track down these violators of God's infallible laws and lock them all up!

The dogs and cats of the city seem to have it quite nice. I've never seen cats roam around the street, not 7 feet from streets populated by countless bikes and darting vans, and seem to not care in the least.

Just like the butterflies, I don't know where those cats go when it rains. Just like the Northwest, Amsterdam falls victim to brief and intense belches of rain once a day or so. All the newspaper stands magically apparate plastic coverings for their magazines and the tourists run for the nearest awning. For me, it seems the perfect oppotunity to drop by a bar and have an Amstel while the situation sorts itself out.

However, just as Japanese economy cars and brash German sedans dominate the transportation infrastructure of California, the bicycles are the preferred method of locomotion. There are also ever-present trams that reach pretty much every nook of the city. A superior way to play, I think.

For now, I've ditched the hostel in lieu of a nice, cramped hotel room. Run by a guy name Otto who is missing many fingers, it seems to be the perfect compromise of comfort and price. It's right on the edge of Vondel Park, adjacent to the museum district. For all intents and purposes, a good location.

I'm off again, to see which way today will drag me.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I shouldn't be awake...

But I've still got 11 minutes on this damned terminal.

Beggars are beggars. I find the most eloquenty critique of the beggar aestethic was Nietzsche when he said (and I paraphase): The beggar is the most loathesome creature because he makes you feel guilty when you give him money, and guilty when you don't give him money. I'm no Ayn-Rand-style-Objectivist, but... HEY! Leave me alone buddy.

I'm going to get a patch to sew over the brand name of my backpack. I'll also try to wear clothes without English writing on them. I have a theory that if I eliminate the english around me, I'll eliminate the skullduggery being inflicted upon my innocent person. But what shall the patch iconoclize (<-- My Word)? Difficult to predict.

And why are Cool Ranch Doritos called Cool American Doritos here? These backwards peoples, I'll never understand them.

One interesting little tidbit I learned about this fair city: The largest chain of coffeeshops in the city has it's mothership store next to the city's police station. The swift, swift irony of it all. Eat that Jerry Fallwell!

Sweet Lawdy

Hey All you comic book fans,

Transatlantic flights are horrendous. I could scarcely imagine what a transatlantic boat trip would be like. The entire time on the plane I was thinking about the African slaves that came to America beneath the decks of some wooden boat. TERRIBLE!
Us humans are so pampered this day in age.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the hostel was to take a shower. Indeed an amazingerest shower to be sure. Surprisingly, the hostel is co-ed. File that under "Thing That Would Never Fly in Utah."

Already, I've learned the terrible, horrible secret of this place, the Canadians are everywhere. I have to watch my back for all the Red Mapleleaves may strike at any moment.

Off to find more adventure.

Capt. Lewis, signing off.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pre Facto Fan Mail

Today I disembark into the murky depths of destinations foreign and unknown. I may not be Admiral Byrd, but I'd say I'm Clark from 'Lewis and Clark' (ignore my rank, just call me "Captain"). The journey will, undoubtedly, be rigorous, quasi-spiritual and consciousness-expanding.

I'm did one last walking tour of my neighborhood this morning; a sort of send-off for my 'hood. Oddly enough, 8:30 AM on a holiday is when most people are sleeping... good, perfect day to travel. As the Muggles are asploding their Chinese-manufactured, All-American Independence Day fireworks, I'll be enduring 12 hours of crook-toothed British flight attendants waking me up too often.

I expect simultaneous exhaustion and elation for the duration of this trip, so I must apologize for all the people I won't be writing emails to directly. However, to foster and sense of intersubjectivity, you can post in the 'Comments' beneath this and all forthcoming posts. (BTW, you don't need to register to post, under 'Choose an Identity' you only need to select 'Other' and write in your name.)

I look forward to hearing from all of you along the way, especially since it will keep me from losing the light on the horizon; the path back home.

Hugs and Thistles,