Categotry Archives: Upcoming Projects


Searching for Direction

Categories: A Day in the Life, Metablogging, Politics (n.): a strife of interests masquerading, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , ,

I’ve been playing the stock market for about four months now. On days like most of the ones this past week, they say that the market is searching for direction. As though the market, each day, were a living entity that was trying to feel out whether things would be up or down for that day. And that the inability to choose one, to be definitively up or down, would be somehow consternating to the market itself. That there would be mild frustration, even disgruntle at the middle ground, at (heaven forbid!) finishing the day unchanged.

No matter how weird this may be for a characterization of a collective group of gambling agencies called a “stock market”, I think I know how this anthropomorphized market feels. I am searching for direction.

Much of this is the direct result of the post-completion hangover that usually accompanies any major project, especially one that has dominated the horizon for a good bit of time. The project in question at this stage is, of course, the just-released Women World Leaders Quiz. There is always a mad rush of euphoria upon completing a major web project and especially a quiz. Such euphoria usually quickly is dashed upon the rocks of reality as I realize that the first few weeks rarely bring the bulk of the visitors, and that it will take months and sometimes years to build up the kind of visitor base and feedback loop that I’ve been dreaming of for any given quiz. This isn’t always the case, but I’m able to block it out in the mad rush of motivation that rolls toward quiz-completion as I grind out the last few answers. And then the rocky reality crash is replaced by a calm that slowly fades into malaise. As though to inquire so now whatchya gonna do?

Indeed. Now what?

Lord knows there are plenty of projects pending at the BP. A Facebook app that really got me going in late June, if you can believe it. A just pre-announced eleventh quiz that I’m already promising sooner than is probably reasonable. And no shortage of projects in various states of neglect and disrepair, summarily abandoned along the trail like only the web (or a very large closet) allows one to do. Unlike the closet, though, one leaves all the laundry piled about unless one actively tries to go back and retrieve, hide, and clean everything up. And that’s never really been my style. In part because I like history, the layers of sediment, and the snapshots of abandoned pages at their last moment of maintenance. Unlike the closet, or ruins of a civilization, there’s no innate decay in bytes. No real cobwebs on the interwebs. The ‘net preserves better than mummification.

So I have almost too many things I could be working on, but so much leftover void of having the one big bogeyman (shouldn’t there be two o’s in “bo(o)geyman”?… it’s not fear of being one over par, after all) project finally completed. Projects for others (the quiz is for my friends at Camp Kupugani) always carry more weight and onus than projects for oneself. Even if the projects for oneself involve countless others (e.g. the currently suspended-animation OMBFP). This is why having a day job manages to debilitate and undermine all the countless projects (including 3 books, a novella, and unending short stories) that I really should be working on. My Dad always said that half the trick in life was to be able to work as hard for oneself as one did for others. My Dad is smart.

And yet today is a lousy day to start a project, really. I mean, sure, they all feel like that sometimes, but really today. September is going to mark a highly volatile month. And not just for the world – I’ve got trips to Colorado (Will’s wedding) and Nuevo (10-year HS reunion) in the next two weekends after this. There’s a Counting Crows show in there somewhere, to match the Jakob Dylan show we just saw on Wednesday. (First concerts since last October, and it was probably 6 months before that to the last one.) I’m taking serious time off work for the above trips for the first time since coming back from India (oh, there’s a dormant project for you – remember when I was going to put all my India/Nepal trip pics online? Yeah. You’ll note I haven’t even managed to change the theme of this blog from last winter.). And then it’s Em’s birthday and baseball season ends and holy goodness it’s October. And we all know about October. (Hey, at least I’ll have to change the theme then.)

This is the point in our program where I try to draw my own personal failings, struggles, and queries into a larger point about where we all are heading at this moment in history. The obvious segue available is the election – what better way to capture a gigantic search for direction than a bi-polar election season with two divisive candidates vying for the allegedly most influential job in the world for the next four years?

And yet it seems off. It doesn’t quite draw the right note, does it? Oh, trust me, I see enough of your Facebook updates to know that a whole lot of you really believe in this stuff, have been swept away by another series of fanfare and speeches. (Who says the conventions don’t matter anymore?) It’s a culture war, a clash of civilizations, a knock-down drag-out for the hearts and minds. What could be more relevant? Right? But it doesn’t feel relevant, does it? It doesn’t really feel like it’s going to make a difference, does it? I dunno. Maybe it does to you. But I’m not seeing it.

Of course part of this must be because I see it as a foregone conclusion. Don’t listen to me too closely – I put money on Hillary being in the White House, too (though I still wouldn’t rule that out quite yet). But unless they cancel all the debates and/or there’s a major “terrorist attack” on US soil between now and 4 November, it’s Obama big-time. He may just win half the South while he’s at it. If you really think that the Southern Baptist Republican base is going to turn out to vote for two self-described independents from the far West, I think you’re in for quite a surprise. And if Obama keeps compromising, talking about how badly Afghanistan is going to get bombed under his watch, and keeps picking old Washington insiders to help him “change”, the base isn’t exactly going to go gangbusters for him either. 2 votes to 1 is a landslide by percentage, but it says something larger about what’s going on in the country generally.

This wasn’t intended to be a political post and now I’ve got myself all fired up. The point is simpler, perhaps larger. There is an undercurrent, some other sort of direction being sought, decided, flipped on a coin at present. It’s irksome and irritating, it makes me feel all discombobulated. Mood swings that are a way of life go from bobbing waves to richter-scale disruptions. (Though I can’t feel the actual richter-scale disruptions alleged in the region.) They say that April flowers bring May showers, but I might posit that September decisions bring October consequences. And while we won’t watch the ripples run away just yet, the pebble is going in the brook as we speak. You can just feel it.

It feels, well, much like getting pegged with a rock.


Things are Looking Up (Maybe)

Categories: A Day in the Life, Let's Go M's, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

The weekend was sort of a waste. A very fun waste, but I still didn’t get nearly done what I was hoping to. Both in terms of making decisions and in terms of catching up on other projects of import. There’s a lot that needs to happen in the next few weeks and the sooner the better.

But it’s Monday and that can mean fresh starts and new beginnings.

To wit:
-Silver skyrockets.
-I actually have work to do.
-A project that seemed like it was going to be harder turned out pretty easy after all (more on this tonight).

But the granddaddy of them all, the mighty news that brought an actual lift to my life today, is this:
The Mariners fired Bill Bavasi today.

The Mariners are 24-45, worst team in the majors, and just got swept by the worst team in the NL. At home. This season would be hard-pressed to become more abysmal. And suddenly, like a sunburst through the clouds, the man responsible for assembling this on-field travesty is kicked out of his comfy chair. As though somehow, somewhere, concepts like accountability and consequences may still have meaning on American soil.

Our Manager, who got lucked into the job by his old boss retiring last year, needs to go too. And Mel Stottlemyre needs to remember how to coach pitchers. And we have about half our payroll going to people who will probably never be good again. This is no panacea, and it’s not going to save 2008.

But oh, what a start. I haven’t been happy like this since Ryan Franklin finally departed the Mariner ship.

So today, somehow, I’m almost feeling like Barack Obama. There’s hope in the water. Which is a lot better than the bacterial microbes in the water of my dream last night. (We were back in India, forgetting to ask for bottled.) A lot better than the (literal) stench of death that hangs around my office today. (At least two dead mice and a third who must remain unfound, given the ongoing odor.)

Cautionary, filtered, fettered, unsteady. But today, I’ll take it all. It’s not even Tuesday yet. Hallelujah.


Facebook ‘Em

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

I’ve spent far too much of my weekend trying to develop an application for the much-ballyhooed Facebook. We’re nearing a year since users could create Facebook apps and over five years since the original Country Quiz came out, so I figured: why not combine the two? After all, Facebook only has eleventy-billion members, so there may even be one or two who haven’t taken the Country Quiz already.

The problem is that I’ve never really learned PHP or MySQL. And rapidly, these are leaving HTML in the dust. You say increased functionality, I say decreased usability to require people to pay $100/hour for tech support. Whatever the real motivation (a combo no doubt), wrestling with the edges of what one knows about these things as a self-taught intermittent web designer is roughly as much fun as being the feature entree at a banquet for piranhas, big cats, and twenty-six-foot-high spiders. But perhaps slightly more painful.

This is not necessarily a cry for help. But if any of you have, say, designed a Facebook application in the past or really love explaining PHP to novices, I wouldn’t exactly say no.

With or without assistance, I optimistically (naively?) believe that I can get this thing chunked out before June. Depending on the timelines of other projects (it was, after all, a setback in the new quiz I’m working on that enabled me to thus spend my weekend in the first place). And then I will be begging you all to download and use (read: beta test) my lovely new application.

I’m pretty much set with the whole thing, except getting (A) results into profile boxes and news feeds, (B) view friends’ country functionality, and (C) invitations to friends to add the app.

Which is pretty much everything.


Note to APDA Forum Werewolf Players

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

So I haven’t updated in a while in part because I’ve been crafting and then moderating a Werewolf/Mafia game with a whopping 45 players online on the APDA Forum.

And just now, the Forum exceeded its bandwidth.

This is just a note to the players in this game that we are pausing the game and I would like to do anything possible to get the APDA Forum back up and running ASAP. I can’t imagine it taking longer than the first of the month, since I think these limits are monthly. Maybe we can then figure out how to expand the bandwidth, if not do that before.

The game will continue! Even if I have to find another forum to revive it in, we are not going to stop the game like at least one past game was halted by a Forum crash. So do not despair and do not stop thinking about the game! It will be revived.

And now, I must away to baseball. Hopefully it will be restored as early as tonight.


Photo Diary of India & Nepal Update

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , , ,

Little is so humbling as setting slightly optimistic goals and then being bowled over with malaise and inertia. The fact is that I have found myself so overwhelmed by the online efforts I would like to produce that I have been unable to make any progress on any front.

But for now I bring you the slightest bit of progress: a landing page for the Photo Diary of my time in India & Nepal. It’s not much, but it’s a start… and it gives me a place to send all my friends who don’t read this blog so they can check for updates on their own.

There is more to come. I have a to-do list a mile long, almost all of it involving webby projects. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like without the Blue Pyramid’s demands hanging over my head. Less connected and quieter, to be sure. But would I have written 3 more books?

Enough of such concerns for now. Today is booked, so little more will be coming out today. And then it’s a work week. But it’s March, which offers hope of loosing the chains of inertia. Not losing them, to be sure, but loosing them. I know you were wondering if that was a typo.

Type. Oh.



Categories: A Day in the Life, Upcoming Projects, Tags: ,

Yesterday, I had a really hard time.

For one thing, I just wasn’t feeling that well, which is always sort of a struggle on one’s birthday. Birthdays aren’t quite the same as they were when I was excited to tack on an extra year to my overall tally, but they’re still pretty cool. And having extremely evident allergies (to the tune of 60+ sneezes in a day, with accompanying draining and Cindy-McCain-style-zombie-red-eyes) is just not a welcome addition to such a day’s schedule. I wish I had a better handle on why I suddenly manifest allergy symptoms on and off all the time, but I guess that’s just part of getting older in America these days. Nothing that debilitating so much as really annoying.

The other reason I had a hard time was more whimsical… every time I wrote the date, my inclination was to put “80” in the year slot. This temptation already would’ve been strong, coming off weeks of traveling and filling out border-crossing forms of all kinds. And that’s just the year I normally associate with “2/20”. But then the actual year is “08”? Forget it. I think the whole day was lived as though 28 years prior.

But tack on “reversal year” as some sort of additional random year to celebrate one’s birthday all the more. I guess it doesn’t work if you were born in ’77 or ’88 (or ’44), but everyone else can celebrate a particular birthday when writing the date will trigger any inclination you ever may have had to dyslexia.

This post is sounding a little overly whiny, and really I had a great birthday (at least the celebrating it part). I really appreciated seeing everyone’s e-mails, phone calls, and (new this year) Facebook messages come in over the day. Gris, Anna, & Brandzy joined us for dinner and an eclipse (I may never get over Anna & Emily’s insistence that we blast “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on the way home from dinner while craning necks to see the moon at the same time). There is now even more baseball to anticipate, as people have solidified that baseball and books are the only things I consistently crave. I sneezed and snorted and drained my way to 11:56 PM Pacific, when I officially crossed over into the territory of Even Older than I Thought Was Old Before.

I am feeling about the same today, but hoping to maybe dehydrate myself into not requiring an entire tree worth of repositories for nasal material today. I know, I know, don’t hold back.

It seems I’m only doing relatively quick updates these days and it’s really about time to shower anyway. To keep you entertained with promises of content, I’m hoping to follow-up my analysis of the Republican vote-counting system with a reverse scenario for the Democrats, which should be much more straightforward, but likely offer similarly election-altering (and more predictable) results. There’s ongoing trip update stuff, including really starting to transcribe my journal. And new ideas abounding seemingly every day, competing with old ideas and the vague notion that I really should write some fiction at some point.

My need for a 10-20 hour/week secretary/coder/admin assistant on the Blue Pyramid doesn’t seem to be dissipating. Though reading my handwriting remains an insurmountable challenge. Which prompted Brandzy to suggest last night that I hire a look-alike to spend that time at my desk while I stay home and try to decipher my own handwriting.

Anyone with long hair and a willingness to wear bright colors out there?


Today’s Photo Uploads: Air Over Afghanistan

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , ,

So I think I’m going to be releasing these roughly daily, which means I can keep up the pace of uploading photos without spending all my time on it and/or driving myself crazy.

Today’s photos are from the 25th of January, a plane day from London to Delhi. I really only took pictures out the window of Afghanistan, but there are several pretty good shots.

I’ve also added a category to these posts about the trip. And text transcriptions of my journal there will be coming soon.


Back from India, etc.

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , , ,

Well I’m back from India, as should be relatively obvious from the recent spate of Duck & Cover updates (I missed Thursday because the internet was down), as well as the overhaul of the page theme here. It was an incredible time and I’m going to try to let the pictures and primary source writing from there tell the story.

To that end, here’s the first page of photos from the trip. I’m going to just periodically upload one day at a time and roll it out in installments. Similarly with the writing. For now, it’s all I can commit to. You should also be forewarned that the pictures are very large, averaging about 2/3rds of a megabyte each, and there will be tens of pictures on each page. So if you don’t have a superfast connection, grab a book while you wait for the pics to load.

Maybe it’ll be fun to watch this be released serially instead of all the photos and writing at once. Hopefully that’ll be the case.

In the meantime, I’m absolutely exhausted. Emily and I had our sleep schedules totally distorted upon return and have been waking up at 4 AM all week. Which is better than waking up too late for work, but still somewhat problematic. And today we were completely wiped out, unable to do anything at all despite needing to do a good deal to catch up from our time away. I would really think that jet-lag would wear off after five days, but my Mom pointed out that we have been going straight with travel or work without a break for basically 4 solid weeks. So I guess it makes sense to be this worn out.

Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with people this weekend, not to mention some errands. We can’t stay this weary forever.


Uncollected Works

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Let's Go M's, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Video Games Killed the Free Time, Tags: , , , , ,

While you’re waiting for the Country Quiz II to be out (maybe tonight?), here are some random assortments to tide you over. And if you’re wondering why there hasn’t been anything big, it’s because the CQII is about to come out. Latest calculations have it that it takes me an hour to write 8 answers, fully coded. There’s also the question tree (done a while back), the image collection (done more recently), and getting all the merchandising ready to go ahead of time (a significant time-suck). So it sort of saps the creativity. Non-stop writing and coding will tend to block out other writing.

The 2007 Mariners (in my MVP 2005 season) are 9-2 (.818) since switching back to All-Star level. One of the losses was a heartbreaker where Travis Blackley coughed up two solo homers in relief in the 7th inning of a 1-0 lead. They also lost the first of the 11 games on All-Star, so they’ve won 9 of 10. This is looking most auspicious, but admittedly most of these games were on a tour of NL Central ballparks – not exactly stellar competition. The sweep of the Pirates just completed was the first sweep of the season – in the second week of June. Just before, RJ took a no-hitter into the 7th in Milwaukee. Thus, the playoffs are looking at least like a longshot instead of an impossibility.

The CQ2 has 32 of 64 answers completely written. Full merchandising of about 80 items per design will be available at launch. Additionally, a new advertising strategy is going into place with the launch of this quiz. You wouldn’t want everything to be just like the original, would you? I briefly thought about holding the launch till the day of the 5th anniversary of the original (it would be 18 January 2008), but timed launches of quizzes have never exactly served me well. It’s going up this month, and probably within minutes of me finishing it.

After a few months of notable average improvement, I’ve gotten beaten down with the migraine stick this month. Maybe seasonal changes have something to do with it. I’m also noticing a November pattern, given how concerned I got about these things last year at this time. Still, overall severity seems down big in 2007.

After the longest-ever 4-day week last week, it’s hard to get as excited as I’d be inclined to be about a 3-day week upcoming. Who knows how long those 24 hours can be? But there’s reason to believe they’ll be relatively straightforward, a brief lull between twin storms of last week and the entirety of December. In other news, there is no news yet, but there will be by ’08.

Finally, Free Rice is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

This is my 62nd post in StoreyTelling, in its 48th day. Duck and Covers count for exactly half (31) of those posts.


News You Can Use

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , ,

Or read, at least.

You probably can’t help but noticing that this page has been overhauled, as the October season wanes and is replaced by an oncoming winter. At some point I may try to institute one of those snazzy things that lets you choose which theme to use when reading, but for now the change is complete, and affects back-posts. So the pumpkins are gone, either till I figure out how to let themes coexist or until next October.

Since we’re on blogging news, I want to introduce everyone to my Dad’s new blog, Qala Bist .com. He’s actually been writing since early October, but we’ve been ironing out the kinks of him having a blog, getting the style set, and so forth. My Dad and I, despite our uniqueness, rarely do anything alone. So it’s only fitting that he start this up now. I think you will find his posts to be much like his interior design, for those of you familiar with that… layered, textured, fascinating, and (above all) colorful.

I have a couple of larger post ideas brewing in my mind’s eye, but it’s just not happening tonight. I spent tonight on the phone, which was great but cumulatively tiring. There’s even more news on the horizon on several fronts, but nothing to really delve into yet. Except one thing, I guess: I can almost promise that The Country Quiz II will be out this month. Note the “almost”. But if I went ahead and promised, then I would force myself to make good on it, whatever the consequences.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day.” Or perhaps “today was just a day fading into another.”

To read. To sleep. And not to dream.


What are the Odds: a statistical analysis of the last post

Categories: A Day in the Life, Let's Go M's, Upcoming Projects, Video Games Killed the Free Time, Tags: , , ,

Okay, so I got to thinking. And I can’t just leave the last post where it ended.

You might be wondering, for example, what the statistical probability is of me making the playoffs after switching to an easier difficulty after just 57 games (35% of the season). Maybe this doesn’t sound very challenging to you.

Last season (2006), my M’s went 101-61, for a .623 pace. Assuming that same winning percentage greets my next 105 games in 2007, I’ll go 65-40, for a final record of 72-90. Which will NOT make the playoffs. For an indication of how much I’ll miss by, the Angels are on pace to win 101 games (sound familiar?) and the A’s 94.

Now, you might say that after playing 57 games on Impossible Mode, I’ve improved over 2006. I sure hope so. But I’ve also set my players back a notch. And if this baseball game is like any other, the player progressions for the season are at least partially impacted by the start the player gets off to. So one would think this might mitigate any improvement.

For example, Ichiro is hitting .186 with 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 16 R. Last year, he hit .271 (yes, last year’s difficulty was hard) with 78 R. It’s unlikely that he’ll suddenly bounce back to hit .271 or score runs on that pace for the last two-thirds of the season.

Similarly, Randy Johnson is 0-11 with a 6.13 ERA in 12 starts and 3 relief appearances (61.2 IP). Last year, he was 11-8 with a 1.70 ERA in an injury-shortened season (22 starts, 158.2 IP). Staff ace Mark Mulder is 1-8 with a 6.47 after going 20-6 with a 1.71 (in 247 IP!) last year. Only Eddie Guardado is within 2 points of last year’s ERA of anyone significant on the staff. And he won the Cy Young Award last year, with a 2-0 record, 54 saves (in 54 chances), and an 0.61 ERA in 59.1 IP (64 appearances). He almost won the MVP Award. This year, he’s only managed to get into 9 games so far (8.2 IP), but has posted a 1.04 ERA, no record, and converted all 6 save opportunities.

What to conclude from all this? (Besides the fact that I’m a tremendous dork who loves baseball, statistics, and video games?) That this will be mighty difficult. Assuming the A’s go on to a 94-68 record, which is a very standard mark for a Wild Card team, I will need to compile an 87-18 (.829) record to catch them. In my Pro-level (3rd hardest of four levels) season in 2005, I only went .722. And that year, Ichiro hit over 30 HR.

Good luck.


Greatest Comeback Ever? (or: 7-50)

Categories: A Day in the Life, Let's Go M's, Upcoming Projects, Video Games Killed the Free Time, Tags: , , ,

I’m well aware that I haven’t posted in a while, and this isn’t really a “real” post anyway. The holiday season is hitting full stride and people have been crazy at work and at home. It’s a three-day weekend, but Em will be spending most all of it in Sacramento as the powerful at the capital try to play “Deal or No Deal”.

So hopefully I’ll have some time to update various parts of the webpage, catch up with my life, and maybe even do something meaningful.

But not yet.

Saturday mornings are some of my biggest video game times, when the whole world of possibility with free time unfolds and I can just let my mind go and relax a little. And of course I can’t stop playing MVP 2005, despite my aforementioned growing hatred of its hardest difficulty level.

So I’ve decided, in the 2007 season, to attempt the greatest comeback in the history of baseball. Rather than languishing on my 20-win pace for the season, I’m switching back to All-Star difficulty for the last 105 games of the season. The goal is to make the playoffs.

Here’s a testimony to my abysmal performance so far:
7-50 (.123) record
28.5 GB (Angels) in the AL West
26.0 GB (A’s) in the AL Wild Card
112-363 (-251) Run Differential
2-27 Home, 5-23 Road
.188 BA, 6.18 ERA
3-16 vs. West, 0-18 vs. Central, 4-15 vs. East, 0-1 Interleague
35 HR, 54 SB

And Ichiro is hitting under .200.

Can this band of scrappy Mariners, defending champions for the past two seasons (who broke their own AL record for wins with 117 in 2005) add to their accomplishments with the greatest seasonal turn-around in the history of sports?

Stay tuned…


Fasting is Fun!

Categories: A Day in the Life, But the Past Isn't Done with Us, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

Oh John Schneider, where are you now?

When I was in high school, I was something of a firebrand. I won the Bible-beater “award” (really a gag gift of a stolen hotel Gideon) four out of four possible years at the annual New Mexico Model UN conference in Santa Fe. I stood in front of a car full of friends, as though I were in Tienanmen Square facing a tank, refusing to let them pass after one of them had offended me at just the wrong time. I spat on an ex-girlfriend’s car almost daily for a year, usually aiming for the driver’s side door handle. I was often righteously angry, raging or ranting at this or that situation. And, as now, I was quite an absolutist and extremist.

The softer side of this ball of fury included a propensity to push limits. I experimented with not sleeping, growing my hair out, changing my eating habits. I concluded one day that “Americans are obsessed with sitting” and refused to seat myself for a full day of school, standing in the back of the room during classes. I even stood for an entire session of our incredibly stuffy lunch (assigned seating, 10 students per table with one faculty head to generate appropriate mealtime discussion), eating with about 30% efficiency as I precariously carried my food on a fork from my waist to my mouth while standing. By the next day, I had decided that the whole sitting thing made a bit of sense.

Some of these experiments stuck. I still sleep less than most, though I am sleeping vastly more than the alternating sessions of zero and four hours of sleep per night that graced much of high school. Vegetarianism was clearly a good move. I am fond of growing my hair out.

But something that didn’t quite stick was periodic fasting. Fish and I engaged in a Ramadan-style fast during daylight hours of a summer month (July 1997, if memory serves), ostensibly “for” the success of our upcoming play that we co-directed that fall. I joined a Yom Kippur-style fast at Brandeis “for” the people of Bosnia a couple years later. After each fast, I came away refreshed and renewed and, while glad I could eat for the moment, convinced that fasting is really quite useful and beneficial in a variety of ways, from physical to spiritual.

The title of this post was a sincere comment I made to John Schneider, a good friend in high school, when describing the fast with Fish. He laughed uproariously and would proceed to bring it up for years afterward when he wanted to cite something absurd that I had said as the basis for giving me flak about my craziness. Schneider, a bit of a hedonist, saw self-denial as innately laughable and inherently unenjoyable. For him, my line was a bit as if I had said that self-flagellation were fun, or perhaps bathing in live scorpions.

Of course he was the one who ran cross-country.

Well, fasting is back. Having mentally prepared for this and pondered the parameters for a few months, I have chosen this weekend for a journey of sensory withdrawal (deprivation sounds so negative) and contemplation.

I still need to pick out a precise location, but it will be somewhere around a mile up or down a trail from a specified “drop point” in a county or state park not far away. I will bring only water, a tent, a sleeping bag, and paper and pen. No other sustenance of any kind, no electronics, and no books. No stimulus. The paper and pen will not be used to work on some creative or escapist project, but simply to record my thoughts, observations, and feelings as I embark on this 40-hour quest.

And while I take this project very seriously and intend to learn a lot from it, I must admit that I see this as a bit of a trial run, as practice. My hope would be that this be at least some sort of annual event, and that the distances and maybe even the timeframes could be stretched in future efforts. For now, though, I want to stay relatively close to home. And there’s something about the 40-hour span that just sings to me.

There are a lot of reasons that now seems like the time for this journey. My need to examine and make changes is all over this young blog, all over my thoughts and perspectives for the last few months. I feel far too “plugged in” in general, reliant on computers and electronic media, reliant on a constant level of noise and activity that all too often comes out like static. And I’m too caught up with what’s going on. Conflicts at work bleed into the rest of my day, spoiling my mood and my inspiration. I feel a deafening thud of routine overwhelming my creativity and vibrancy. Oh, how I want to break free.

Back in high school, I went on a “wilderness solo” camping trip as part of our experiential education curriculum during my sophomore year. The idea was extremely captivating to me, despite my lack of positive camping experiences and my horrendous feelings about the prior experiential ed trip, freshman year’s Philmont of doom (and torrential rain). The solo was pretty light-core and there was no fasting component, but we were supposed to hike out to our own predetermined spots and be alone for roughly 24 hours. While not required, we were encouraged to not bring books or other stimuli, in an effort to break below alpha and beta waves into our “theta wave state”. (There was actually a very long exposition about these relative brain wave states, which I have learned almost nothing about before or since, from the teachers running our trip.)

Most people snuck in alcohol and just drank. I really tried to honor the parameters of the trip, even though I had initially seen this as a great opportunity to just get away and read for a long time. In my early musings, I started humming the Kinks’ song “Lola” in my head, and it wound up stuck there for no less than 12 hours. It was torture. Eventually I had to break out a book in an effort at distraction, to no avail. I tried to sleep as much as I could.

And the teachers couldn’t even maintain the 24 hours of solo. They came to check on each one of us at about the 12-hour mark, just to make sure we were okay. I think the school’s liability standards were a bit in conflict with the project concept.

I think I’ve made a lot of progress in the last 12 years, especially regarding my perspective about the value of limiting stimuli. I may end up with “Lola” or some equally annoying drivel in my head for the bulk of the trip. I may end up thinking the whole time about what I’m missing, though I believe that would be quite informative in some way. I might just get a migraine and be in a low state of capacitation for most of the time.

But I doubt most of those scenarios. I have a feeling that I will be able to flush out much of what has been bothering me over the last few months, to really reset and focus on what’s important. To, as my Dad put it, “put my ear to the ground and truly listen”.

Obviously, while some of the inspiration comes from that wilderness solo attempt so long ago, some of the inspiration here is from Native American spirit quests, where young adults were dispatched to find their path upon reaching the age of majority. It’s clearly a different time in my life, one where I’ve passed or reached many of the plateaus and perspectives that young Native Americans were seeking. But there is still much to seek, and much to find. And the Native Americans had the advantage of being able to return to a world filled with people and bustle, yes, but devoid of clocks and electronics and infinite distraction. In our current incarnation, we have a much wider bridge to cross to be at home in the world.

Right now, with two days of work, routine, bustle, clocks, and electronics to go, I can’t wait to stand on that bridge, throw my arms to the sky, and just look around.

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