I am currently in:
Austin, TX, USA

When people call me a "free spirit"

I'm pretty sure when people call me a 'free spirit' that it's their way of calling me crazy to my face.

So, I'm heading west! My aim is to hit Yosemite, then areas of Northern California, then around the Portland/Bend/Corvallis, Oregon area. I'll be stopping at other places between there and Austin along the way.

I miss the trees. I miss the forest. I miss green grass. I've been living in Central Texas off and on for over 5 years now and it's just not the same here as where I grew up in Illinois. The trees don't get very tall and many of them are more like angry little shrubs than they are my beloved peaceful, shade-giving giants. The hiking trails here are filled with rocks; you'd be a fool to run them barefoot. Once, a friend and I were walking.. she was in flipflops. She felt a sudden sting in the middle of her foot. Turns out, the grass we were walking on went through her flipflop.

The Central Texas environment is unforgiving.

I was out in the San Diego area in early 2012. While greener than Austin, it's still not what I'm looking for.

I've been to Northern California once. When I was younger, my dad and I drove up Route 1 from the bottom of California up into the redwoods at Humboldt State Park. I remember it being pretty nice. I'm worried a bit about the light levels. One reason I love Austin so much is how much sunlight we get. Clouds and.. weather of any sort.. are a rare experience down here. The heat is also part of the reason I left Illinois and I'm worried I'll lose that too.

1 City 1 Month

The plan right now is to stay in each city for one month at a time. During the first few cities of my trip it will be less time than this, but once I get to the Los Angeles area and north of there, I will try and stay in places for about a month.

I say 1 city 1 month, but it's probably more like 1 city 2-3 months. 1city1month sounds better though ;)

I've traveled to places for hours at a time to a few months at a time. I've found that I really enjoy getting to learn about what real local culture is like. If you only stay in a place for a day or two, you probably only experience a few local people and maybe a few local places. More likely, you'll hit the major tourist spots and move on. I'm going to try to get to know every place that I go.

Anyway. Follow me on the map. I'll post photos on facebook =)

03 February 2013 | Comments

Choose a new name

I propose we choose our own names. An extra name in addition to our two names. In total, a family name, a given name and a taken name.

You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your... name?

I have a friend who came to the United States from India who has an unusual and difficult to pronounce last name.
The name came to him, not by choice, but by oppression-via-form. When he came to the US, he had only one name, a common practice in his home region. But, in order to fill out certain forms to become a citizen of the United States, you need two names - a first and last. He chose his father's first name as the extra name.

It's an oppressive cultural practice, but no more so than the assignment of names period.

A name is something that you keep for your entire life, something you use every day and something that makes you you. We change all sorts of things about ourselves to develop identity. So why don't we choose our own names?

Yeah but then we'd all have names like Superman and Beavis

Well that's simply not true because everyone has the power to do it now and most people just don't. However, it's a good point. At what point in a person's life should a new name be taken? Certainly we name children because they are incapable of naming themselves. And adolescents would likely end up with names like Batman, Cinderella and Pikachu - all legit name choices of course, but probably not what they're going to want to be known as for the rest of their lives. "Adulthood" at 18 may not be the best time either. I'm thinking somewhere in the mid to late 20s.

A taken name

Traditional names do have a purpose. A given name is what you get from your parents based on what they deem significant/appropriate. A family name is something you get from... your family and it makes some sense for lineage and the concept of "clan".

So I propose we add a taken name. For the sake of transition and tradition, we would have three names total.

So what would you pick as a name?

Some other interesting things about names

09 January 2013 | Comments

Whenever I sign up for a website that requires my birthday, I just leave it as the default.. And then change the year to whatever.  As a result, I get lots of interesting birthday messages on New Year's Day.  Happy Birthday from Ren Faire Singles.  Fetlife wishes you a spantacular birthday!  Happy Birthday from NickelbackFanForums.  A Cat Facts birthday!  Did you know vomit...  Happy Birthday from ASSBOOTY DOT COM.  Goatse says Happy Birthday =O=

17 December 2012 | Comments

sometimes.. just... burn it all.

17 December 2012 | Comments

Send a visual signal to aliens: create an anomaly in the sky

Why don't we just flash a light for the aliens to see?

We spend a decent amount of money and effort pointing things at the sky and waiting to hear something. Why not do the reverse and send a message? We've done this a few times, but in ways that maybe don't make sense. We learn more about space by watching it than anything else and we've been looking at the sky pretty much since forever. It's likely that other intelligent life with an interest in what's out there would also be observing the sky as intently.

So why not put something up for them to see?

Basically we'd need to create a light that could be seen from a great distance - like a star or a planet. Maybe even negative light. We find planets sometimes by watching for less light.

The Kepler space observatory searches for planets by measuring the light from over 150,000 stars, all at once, every half hour, and very precisely.

And what we're looking for is the tiny dimming of light that is caused by a planet passing in front of one of these stars and blocking some of that starlight from getting to us. In just over two years of operations, we've found over 1,200 potential new planetary systems around other stars. To give you some perspective, in the previous two decades of searching, we had only known about 400 prior to Kepler.

But it couldn't just be any light or lack of light. It would need to be something that looked odd to them. A pattern that wouldn't likely occur naturally, perhaps.

do we want to send a message?

There is of course the question of whether we want aliens to know we're here at all. It's possible, even likely that contact would not be a good thing.

Further learning: Be sure to check out Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking. The aliens episode is great, but you should watch all three if you can.

16 December 2012 | Comments