Antigua, Guatemala and “Where ya from?”

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Agua Volcano (one of 3 forming the town’s perimeter)

When I arrived to Antigua, I planned to stay for 10 days and then go to a workaway agreement at Lake Atitlan for 6 weeks.  The first night in the city I realized this was where I wanted to be.

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A week later, I cancelled with the place at the lake and decided I am going to live here.

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Above: An exhibit at one of the many art museums.

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Southern biscuits are one of the best things since the big bang. Now I have the power to create them.

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It’s your ride.  Good or bad, you decide.

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“Ignorance better means ignore-ance” -Alan Watts

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I didn’t know after the rockstar years I’d enjoy my own company more.

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There are two clerks and two customers each buying half a dozen things.  I stand in line for 10 minutes for a notebook and a few pens.  Is everyone in this town as high as I am?

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Mocha lattes make me feel normal.  It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drink one.  I take tiny sips, analyzing the microfoam texture, temperature, sweetness, flavor, and strength of the espresso.  I ponder things, breathe slow full breaths, and sometimes share thoughts with fellow homo sapiens.  All of life’s events are put on hold until the drink is complete.  This is my reset button for fresh perspective and energy.

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don’t think too hard, it’s just art

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Spanish Architecture. In the 1770s, the population was 60,000 people. Today it has a population of about 35,000.

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My least favorite question is “Where are you from?”, especially when it is the first thing to come out of a stranger’s mouth.  Sometimes when I am asked that question I tell them that is the only question I don’t answer right away.  I tell them that I have 4 reasons and if they would like to hear them, I’ll gladly share. 

The reasons are: Accuracy, Extrapolation, Embellishing, and Small Talk.

Accuracy, because the question is extremely vague, and requires either an equally vague or very long and complex reply.  The question also speaks to the past and doesn’t allow the person to display the growth since they started their journey.  Unless a person lived in one town for their entire life and then flew straight to where you are asking the question, it just leaves out a lot of important information.

Extrapolation is an estimation between a limited number of data points.  The only way to know a lot about a place is to spend a significant amount of time there.  When a stranger tells you they are from a certain place, the chances of both people being from the same place is astronomical.  When you learn that a person is from a place you don’t know much about, your mind projects any known data about that place to that person.  A lot of times it is bad data and most of the time it is completely unrelated to the person.  So the person gets a false representation before they have a chance to display any of their characteristics.

Embellishing happens a lot on resumes.  I know this because I am really good at making resumes.  Resting on laurels restricts growth and trying to sound cool is usually stretching the truth.  Someone might say they are from Seattle when they are really from Bellingham.  The person answering the question has control over the interrogator’s perception.  

In the end, it’s all just really weak, unoriginal small talk.  Talking about the weather would be better, because at least it’s in the present moment.  If you are going to lead into a conversation by asking about someone’s origins (which I think is kind of personal), try to be original.  Using, letter for letter, the exact same phrase that six hundred and fifty million other people have used that same day, just makes you a boring person.  Don’t be boring.  Think about the sounds your face is about to make. Try to show more cognitive awareness than a bowl of yogurt.

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Biggest people’s market I’ve seen in Central America. I got lost and it took me about a half hour to find my way out.

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Another group of expats from the U.S. that go to Central America after retirement are school buses.

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There is a factory that renovates the “chicken buses”. You can get a ride 20 minutes out of town for 1.5 Quetzals = $0.20   DSC_0170

I took a picture out the window while we were driving down the mountain.  Pancho is very polite and his natural reaction was to pull over.  Wrong place to pull over.  He realized almost instantly, but it was too late.

Some road workers came over to check on us.  Then they left and came back with very heavy branches from a tree.  Two layers of these 6-foot logs and the SUV drove right back on the road.  The entire ordeal lasted about 15 minutes after which we drove to town to run errands.

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Flan

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Central Park has public WiFi

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I have about 80 pictures of Antigua’s unique doors.

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I did not adjust the colors.

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Today I was told it’s the volcanoes surrounding the city that make people want to stay.  I can dig it.  Who’s gonna argue that a volcano isn’t a powerful force?DSC_0157 DSC_0039 DSC_0033 (1)

It all comes down to balance.  Working too much turns paradise into hell.  DSC_0060 (2)

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Copan II

To not travel is to hold in your lap the book of life and never leave the first page.

-somebody

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central park

It’s probably not that super common for an ant to encounter a human being.  Especially not a country ant.

A dragonfly just landed on my forearm.  Talk about a weird looking animal.  There’s these black ants walking on my legs and hand and they must be just freaking out.  I mean this strange new texture with these skinny looking trees (hair) and smells from these little wet holes (pores), spaced evenly.  And none of their friends have ever experienced anything like this before.

Maybe an elder, who is almost a week old has been ostracized to the distant edge of their kingdom.  (One’s trying to get under my belt and getting frustrated.  His little legs are pointy) The old guy is an outcast because he talks about this time when he was a boy, 6 moons ago when he took a ride on a giant continuous field of blue and green and red woven material.  Aliens made it for sure.  And it took him all the way to the other end of the sun where he walked, lost, for an entire day.  This is like a year for an ant.  (They actually live 1-3 years surprisingly, but the i’m not rewriting the thought)  And an old sweet ant took him in and gave him leaf and water and said everything was going to be alright.

But it wasn’t alright.  He was labeled crazy by society and had to either live a lie or live alone.

And now these young ants are looking at eachother and saying, “Holllllllllly shit!!! That crazy old bastard was telling the truth all these days…”

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When you do “should” activities, it’s difficult not to multi-task.  When you do what you actually want to do, there is an authentic focus.

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It’s not how we feel, but what we do with those feelings.

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Leave time in your planning for fun.  That’s the hardest part for me.

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The machine does not like art.  It takes away from productivity.  I didn’t consider paintings, dance, drawing, or writing before I left the machine.

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Lychee fruit – sweet meat, watch the seed

White shoes have always creeped me out for some reason.

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Daytime fencepost

I worry about the future a lot.  I’m not talking about the distant ten or thirty years down the road kind of thing.  I’m talking about the way the rest of the day is going to go.  When does this restaruant close?  Will it be dark by the time we get back?  What will I have for dinner?  I’m not even hungry and I’m thinking about what I will want once the emotion, the feeling of apetite gets here!

How am I supposed to know what I’ll be hungry for?!

Instead, I could be more practical and gather current, relevant information and make rational decisions based on that.  I have to resist going on to the next thing because the current situation is already pretty cool.

I’m sitting on a porch, overlooking a lawn lined with exotic hardwoods and tall palms at the edge of a mountain overlooking the valley in which the pueblo of Copan lies.  An old yellow lab is snoring beside my rocking chair and I’m sipping chamomile tea, writing this, listening to truly strange tropical birds, on acid.  Yea, I think I’ll chill in this moment for a moment.

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One reason drugs are good is they allow you to take life less seriously.  I haven’t taken nearly enough in my life.

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Chewing to Health

Ever get a stomach ache after a meal?  I got a BIG one this week and it came and went for 3 days.  I also got a fever, couldn’t sleep, and other symptoms.  I researched enzymes a bit.  According to one source, we are designed so that 70% of our digestion takes place in our mouth.  That’s a lot of chewing!

Actually, if you just chew a little more than you think you need to, the food totally loses it’s texture and is so easy to swallow that it’s difficult to consciously keep chewing.  You begin salivating enzymes that then travel to the stomach (they are not already there) to continue the digestion process.  Without these enzymes, your stomach is an unregulated acidic mess.  It’s a wonder I can digest at all the way I inhale food.  I mean I literally only breath air between bites.

“Well I don’t have time to chew 32 times per bite! Muh, muh, muuuuh!!!!” one might cry.  Well, could eating slowly possibly be a source of effective multi-tasking?  See what happens when you try to chew your food longer than 3 seconds.  You begin breathing through your nose (healthy).  You actually have time to enjoy the taste of the ingredients (fun).   You have time to think (productive).  It is as if you are meditating for the 20 minutes of your meal.

If you were going to meditate at the most critical times of the day, in order to keep the big and small pictures in perspective, what times would they be?  For me, it would be early in the morning, in the middle of the day, and then again in the evening.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  You can eat slowly and still share someone else’s company or read the paper.  They don’t conflict.  Meals can go back to meaning something and being more than just a necessary item on the to-do list.

I realized while tripping on the mountain: We animals eat quickly when we are afraid.

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Mayan means “corn people”

Something amazing just happened.  I just got paid for something I wrote and offered to get paid to write something else.  I wrote a review on Trip Advisor and went back to the restaurant (See Review Here) to try their coffee and yogurt.  The guy wouldn’t let me pay because he liked my review so much.  Then he offered to comp a massage if I would write a review for the massage therapist.  Conflict of internet?  I’ll focus on the positive and be honest.

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this means turn back

If you don’t get rid of the old, there’s no room for the new.

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baby macaw (pirate’s “parrot”)



 Don’t WORRY about what you want to do for the rest of your life.  Life isn’t lived in the future, it’s lived one day at a time, one second at a time.  It’s impossible to know what you are going to want to do ten years from now.  It’s a dumb thing to ponder, yet almost everyone in the westernized would demands it!

Ignoring their own problems, they demand you tell them right now what you’ll be doing in ten, twenty, thirty years like today doesn’t exist.  The only thing anyone really knows is what they want right now.  So do that.  And if you keep doing that, a pattern will naturally develop and you’ll have answered, eventually, the first question.  As my brother’s friend and mentor Carl says, “Plot your course as the water passes under your keel.”

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Copan Ruinas

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” 

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A street in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The cobblestones remind me of Europe.

What the hell do I do all day?

Ok, it starts with me saying, “Ahhhhh…. Not a thing to do today!” and I amble into the kitchen.  I ask (self-sabotaging my peaceful day) if the ladies need any help with breakfast.  They say, “No gracias!”

Whew!  I walk next door to fill up a water bottle and the owner of the hostel asks me if I want to make and sell pizzas tonight to earn some money.  I say, “I’ll think about it.”  After buying yeast and flour, I drop off the groceries and get my stuff together for a coffee shop blog post.  On the way, one of the ladies asks if I want to go on a coffee date at 3:ooPM.  Sure.

So from 8:00am – 10:00pm I am once again busy, but it’s cool.  Thirty minute yoga, thirty minute morning writing, eat the hostel breakfast (eggs, refried beans, avocado, toast, orange juice), buy groceries, work on blog for a couple hours, visit a friend, buy gourmet cheese for the pizza, make the dough, bake the pizzas, clean up.

After dinner, my job is to sell beer to anyone playing pool and hanging out.  Afterward, I read, listen to youtube, and go to sleep.

I was selling biscuits, but not many people share my passion for those savory, flaky, buttery, fluffy little golden nuggets.  To hustle, you have to hustle.  It’s fun though.

 “Hundreds and hundreds of people are running after success and none of them know what it is!” -Alan Watts

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Mango Mouth

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My upper lip is usually smaller than my lower.  Lips are sensitive and I’m typically a whiny little bitch, so this is extra painful for me.  It’s called “mango mouth”.  Mango is in the same family as Poison Ivy, along with cashew, sumac, and pistachio.  Someone in Roatan showed me how to eat them when they fall off the tree.  It never bothered me until almost a month later.  Hostel Barakah in Copan Ruinas has two trees and they are falling like crazy.  Itchy.

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Mike Rowe gives a Ted Talk about what he learned from 4 years hosting the show Dirty Jobs.  For one, he said the people he met had a sense of peace and balance that no other group he knows maintains.  Hard work is good for the soul.  He also pointed out that we are at war with work.  This is the revolution of this generation.  There was the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the Social Revolution of the 60’s, Suffrage, Civil Rights, several others, and now the Anti-labor Revolution.  As a participant of this revolution, I am not going to argue whether or not it exists.  What I am curious about, is to see what comes from this revolution.

Robotic labor will be later on because there are still vast differences in currency values.  Outsourcing labor will accelerate as skilled labor (welders, electricians, carpenters, etc.) are not replenished by citizens of westernized cultures.  From this, I can see two positive results: cultural-exposure increases and currency-value buffering.

By more and more labor being demanded and filled by foreign labor, strange cultures will be experienced, second-hand, by citizens of the country not willing to do it’s dirty work.  This initially induces xenophobia (fear/hate of foreigners), but eventually this fades away as the population transforms.

An average per capita income for 2013 was estimated at $1,570.  In the United States, in 2008 it was $26,964.  Buying power will also homogenize with each generation of global labor shifting.  This is not a move toward socialism.  Rich businessmen in India will exist side by side with rich American businessmen.  It is happening without effort because it is natural.  As countries become more familiar with one another, the public is harder to trick into going to war.

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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old stuff

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reminds me of Boots

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there is still some 1200 year old red paint on some of the stones

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ball court at bottom right

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market-ing = going to the market (the United States’ national past-time)

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the right half is what it looked like before excavation

Hostel Peace

I really enjoy these late nights when the hostel is almost empty.  The other night a bus dropped off about 15 backpackers and the hostel has been full the past couple days.  I just chilled in a hammock and watched 2 hours of Joe Rogan stuff.  The interview with George St. Pierre is awesome.  

Now it’s midnight, but I feel wide awake.  Normally I’m too hard on myself, always trying to finish reading a serious book, or working on a story, or drilling Spanish verbs.  Trying, working, drilling.  Always striving to get better.  Tonight I walk through the silent hostel on the clean tile floor, run my fingers on the unlit pool table and stroll out on the porch to listen to crickets.  This valley is peaceful.  No wonder they chose it to build the Mayan pyramids and temples.  It’s at a high elevation so it doesn’t get too hot during the day and at night you can comfortably sleep in one of the hammocks outside.

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This is me:

“We have all met those who are trying very hard to be real persons, … ranging from students of arcane wisdom to the audiences of popular speakers on pep and personality, selling yourself and making your life a success. I have never yet met anyone who tried to become a real person with success … So many modern religions and psychologies make this fundamental mistake of trying to make the tail wag the dog, which is what the quest for personality amounts to.” Alan Watts

“It’s hard to prove genocide,” said Hall. “If some Biafrans survive, then genocide hasn’t been committed. If no Biafrans survive, who will complain?” – Leonard Hall to Kurt Vonnegut in Biafra: A People Betrayed

Feel the breeze.  Trees in the sneeze.  Peace comes cool to break the rays.  Days roll on and summer is long here where the ocean meets the bays.  Blue and green and blue and white.  Coral grows deep like a pelican’s flight.  Warm and dark and white at night.  The beach covered mountains grow leaves for light.  Take what you will, what you need from me.  It’s now or tomorrow and all I’ll just be.  Each morning of the future is waste.  Instead I’ll walk uphill, no haste.  Just keep on the fountain’s edge and avoid drops.  The coins are a trick and cost more than the sops.  Bring puppies and kittens and raisons and treats.  Leave drinks and breads for others who sleep.  Dip cookies in milk and laugh to yourself.  This dream they call real is as sharp as a knife.  This sleep they call awake will give and take life.  When it’s all said and seen, walk in circles to save time.  You can live on gold and you can dance with rhyme.  Disobey but be kind.  Avoid bullets for your mind.  Keep a book and a heart and mind in your pile of unopened boxes under the sweet pine.  Look left when in the West before deciding to cross.  Forget the fancy restaurant.  Try to grow before you’re lost.  Forget the rules, just observe the first laws.

Watch the sun without your eyes.  Take each breath with great surprise.  Keep a totem in your heart to keep you company in the dark.  Wear no shoes on top your bag because it holds your back at sag.  Nothing gives us like we have.  Nothing tries to take it back.  Winter is a chance to bake and a chance to avoid the great mistake.  Keep a phonebook in your pants to use in rain and great romance.  I’m talking to you , O’ winner of the games.  Only the world doesn’t know your name.  Because names are silly and change all the time.  The only constant is the frame of your mind.  It’s never changed so let it all go.  Be who you were in six inches of snow.  Take in the soup, give back the change.  Stare at a lake or a homeless dog’s mange.  Pick up a stone and ask if it cares to be called ten thousand times nothing the same.  Walk every morning, every evening at night.  The slower you move, the harder the fight.  Shade is your ally, but water can kill.  See if there’s a mailbox inside of that pill.  I can’t say I tried and Charles would be pleased to see me in shambles falling through my own knees.  There never was an ending, so how could it shine like golden palm fronds at the end of my mind?  I’ll keep up this nonsense for it beats the alternative: to simply be happily avoiding the truth.

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The 100th Monkey & Roasting Thoughts

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freedom

The “critical mass” was apparently reached and another barrier has been transcended.

Similar to the critical mass or “tipping point” phenomenon, I heard an interesting theory (though discredited in the scientific community) called The Hundredth Monkey.

On an island in Japan, sweet potatoes were fed to a community of monkeys.  The sweet potatoes were covered in sand and although the monkeys enjoyed the food, they disliked the gritty texture on their teeth.  A young, female from one of the troops discovered that washing the potato in a stream removed the sand.  Others in her family began to copy her technique.  The idea spread slowly and some of the older generation preferred to eat their potatoes sandy.

The name 100th Monkey is used in reference to an arbitrary critical number, which was supposedly reached.  This was suspected because almost overnight, groups of monkeys from other islands and on the mainland began to wash their potatoes also.  It was as if their knowledge had spread without direct contact.

A zoologist, Dr. Lyall Watson, made the observation:

“Let us say, for argument’s sake, that the number was ninety-nine and that at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning, one further convert was added to the fold in the usual way. But the addition of the hundredth monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass, because by that evening almost everyone was doing it. Not only that, but the habit seems to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously, like glycerine crystals in sealed laboratory jars, in colonies on other islands and on the mainland in a troop at Takasakiyama.”

Sounds like every fashion trend when I was growing up.

To whom it may concern:  Any time you want to join this type of lifestyle, even if it’s only for a week or two, you are welcome to join.  You can come down and stay at the place I am staying where my cost of living is currently about $40/week.  That is not a typo.  You will be expected to work around the house and garden and help with the organization of the mural project.  This particular offer stands as long as it is listed online.  It and other offers can be viewed at http://www.workaway.info

That being said, I don’t believe you or anyone else truly envies my life, because if they did, they would take the offer to join me on a backpacking adventure.  I’m not lonely, actually quite the opposite because there are so many backpackers out here already, but it has been frustrating to hear over the years people say, “I wish I could do that!”  And when given the opportunity and means, they sheepishly decline, protecting themselves with paper thin excuses.

I guarantee I can get you a one-way airplane ticket for less than $300 from anywhere in the continental U.S.  I’ll pay the difference if it’s more.  Take a short vacation or a long term hiatus from work.  Come check out what it’s like to live outside the United Boxes of America.  It’s a game changer.

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stumpfortable

What would you do if there were no time?  With infinite time, there would never be a hurry to do anything.  Even if what you were doing at some moment were a complete waste of time, there would be no time and therefore no way to waste it.

Would the activities one took part in therefore only be chosen on a purely enjoyable basis?  Would boring and useless activities still be performed to milk them for every last drop of amusement and value?  If you were immortal, you could first acquire vast amounts of influence through hard work in order to have good karma and the means to fully enjoy yourself.  Then you wouldn’t be a peasant for all of eternity, but then again, what is the hurry?  You could wait a while before getting to work.  Maybe as you enjoyed sloth, you would realize that you already have everything you need.

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plastic bottle caps

Do your feet hurt?  Shin splints?  Check out where your weight is going in your feet.  If most of the force is ending up on the balls of your feet, your shins will always be angled forward slightly.  Don’t just believe me, try it out.

The Talus bone connects the shin to the foot.  If you want the pain to go away, make the weight transfer 50% to the heel and 50% to the balls of your feet.  Your foot rocks a bit as you step, but the forces should average out to be even when walking, standing, or climbing.  Doing this ensures that the shin angle averages out to be vertical.  Too far back and the inertia is absorbed in a “breaking force” due to friction between your foot and the ground.  This is bad for knees.  I learned this getting ready for a half marathon several years back.  Too far forward and you get shin splints because your shin is always trying to bend like a banana.

Try it out.  Just try for a day to make the force equal throughout the foot.  Check out what it does to your posture too.

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you can easily see these ants from 15 feet away

Eating The Sandwich

At the beginning of Joe Rogan Live (a 1-hour stand up routine which I highly recommend) he is in a car heading to the show. Eat the Sandwich Clip  He basically says we are a very complicated form of bacteria. Every year Los Angeles grows and it looks just like mold on a sandwich.  You can knock it down with a hurricane or set it on fire and it always rebuilds. Joe Rogan says then that he believes that is why humanity is here: to eat the sandwich.  He says, “We are here to fuck shit up.”

Going further with this, I’d like to include the environment and rural issues.  Everyone probably agrees by now that we are going to eventually alter the chemical makeup of the atmosphere or it will change itself as it has done all along.  As this happens we are going to have to evolve (gills, telepathy, whatever) or go extinct.  Since we are only using

Lately I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about people taking the next big jump in evolution.  Like the jump between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens, when humans became aware of their thoughts and no longer just acted on instincts.  This is one theory anyway.  Rural areas adopt urban trends and conveniences.  Increasingly successful medical practices and overall healthy living means more babies surviving birth and more people living to a hundred.

Painting a wall seems to take forever because it takes so long to paint the perimeter. As you move toward the center, it gets faster and faster until the perimeter becomes the center.  This is how the rural areas are going to get consumed by cities.  They will be very quiet as the edges are getting “painted”.  And then all of a sudden, oh shit! the suburbs of Los Angeles are also the suburbs of San Diego.  Or Savannah and Jacksonville.  Portland and Seattle. Eventually New York and Chicago.

The population of the United States in 1800 was 5.3 million people.  In 1900, it was 76.2 million.  That’s only a hundred years and humans have been around for 200,000 years.  In the year 1970 it was 203 million.  In 2000 it was 280 million and now it is about 320 million.  In it has already happened all over the country except for places like Montana, the Dakotas and west Texas.  The human bacteria is a strong one.

I say, the sooner, the better.  We are going to evolve again.  As Bill Hicks said, “Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs.”  Let’s eat this sandwich and see what’s for dessert.

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i call it a Jumanji Flower

Brugmansia, or Angel’s Trumpet, has been traditionally used in South America for various medicinal purposes and religious ceremonies.  I call it the Jumanji flower and it is very toxic.  Hallucinations, but not the good ones, ensue after digestion.  It is reported that you lose the awareness that you are hallucinating.  In once case the person amputated his own tongue and another arguably important appendage while under the influence of this plant.  It is labeled as “Extinct in the wild”.

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left field

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right field

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buck-fiddy cup of joe

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at 8 minutes. wet grass aroma is changing to lightly toasted bread

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beans undergoing “first crack” at 10 minutes, stronger bread and slight caramel aromas

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uneven because i roasted to perimeter of pan, roast stopped at 14:20. Cool rapidly in colander

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at Estucafe they roast for about 10 cafes in Santa Rosa

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the wooden handle in the previous picture for aromatic observation. Hipsters use caution: don’t burn the moustache

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one of 4 charts for olfactory training

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the girl at the roaster told me if you work at a roaster 5 days a week, it takes about 3 years to become proficient

 

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espresso roast is great for lattes, but has less of the origin characteristics

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music is important for the road