Jan 30, 2006

An interesting site about "free running": essentially moving through town and country with fluidity and creativity while embracing autonomy and art. The site describes it much better than I can.

Though it closely resembles a running shoe commercial, I still find this kind of thing quite fascinating, mainly because I have been practicing "free running" for years on my very own terms and using my own techniques. I have always been intrigued by the creativity and art of movement- not so much in terms of dance but in travel. It is quite nifty to see it put into words as a type of philosophy. I would have to agree that for me, it is indeed a philosophy.

I have actually been practicing my own form of "free running" for years. For example, while traveling from point A to point B in town, it is highly unlikely that I will follow sidewalks and designated walkways all the way to my destination, or even choose the shortest route. I take shortcuts that get me there quicker (if I am in a hurry) or diversions that interest me all the time. I enjoy cutting across cemeteries, dashing through wooded tracts, climbing in and out of canals and waterways, jumping fences, and navigating through storm drains (something I did in Phoenix but have yet to do in Hilo, since all the rain makes it hazardous). There is something very spontaneous and animal-like about it that appeals to my nature. I am not simply following the grid and moving in rectangles and squares as if on some kind of track... I'm moving like an animal.

Unfortunately, there are legal issues involving private property, restricting the spontaneity of my movement. I can't simply cut across yards or jump over houses too often. Quick and nimble as I am, I would probably get busted sooner or later. My favourite times for free running in town are either when it's dark or when it's raining, due to the substantially fewer people out. People don't tend to bother me that much, especially when I am not focused on them.

It would be the way I move that would freak people out. Doing handstands on grave stones, dropping off of bridges into dry water canals from fairly high distances, climbing tall fences to run through the arboretum like I'm some kind of fleeing prisoner, crawling out of a drain... yeah, a wolf can really scare people when you see a big furry arm emerging from a gutter. Better tell the kids to get inside!

It's just all about creativity and free-spiritedness. I don't even really think about or plan such maneuvers; they simply occur. I feel more comfortable and natural moving in such a way than following the prescribed routes and using all the crosswalk signals like another button-mashing droid walking in between all the lines. It's more likely to get me in trouble or cause me injury, but it's also infinitely more interesting and well worth the risk. It's truly a way of keeping in touch with my animal side, even amongst civilisation. And it keeps me in shape and very light on my feet.

I move in similar ways out in the country, and feel much better about doing it shoeless out there. The chances of running across broken glass or other such hazards are substantially less. Going barefoot is all part of the philosophy, again. The furry philosophy. Any fursona I use, including my main one, are always barefoot. The reasons for barefootedness:

1. Shoes are too restrictive and weighty, and leave an unnatural, geometric imprint on the earth. The impact on foliage is also much greater. I would prefer to not leave a trace of my having been there.
2. Manueverability and balance are much easier without shoes on most types of terrain. Also, it allows me to get in much better touch with the terrain; more intimate with the earth and my surroundings, if you will. It is simply more natural and again, animal-like. The sensation of cool mud or cold mountain water against the bottom of my feet is worth not wearing shoes alone. And it makes me feel all the more primal and at home in my surroundings.

Of course, shoeless travel is not practical in some areas. I would be reluctant to traverse rough, crumbly a'a lava rock, for example, without shoes, though may attempt it someday when my feet are calloused enough. And I never thought to slip-slide around on the ice on Mauna Kea barefeet, though it may be something I'd like to try someday. It's about experimentation and new experiences... innovation and daring. I may take my licks from it periodically and risk serious injury, but the gratification I obtain from it all is well worth it. I do exercise a significant amount of good judgment and caution, however, which is probably why I am still alive to this day.

One thing I would never do to my poor feet is subject them to the ground beneath a thicket of Keawe trees, where their thorns up to an inch long rise up from the ground on fallen twigs. *grimace* I'm not that "XhardcoreX", really... not to the point where pulling bloody thorns out of my feet sounds like a good time.

I can easily make my way down the trail into Pololu Valley without shoes, but last time I did it, I received some odd and strangely amused looks from tourists on the trail. I had to pat the top of my head to make sure tentacles hadn't sprouted from my scalp. A couple separate tourists asked me where my shoes were, to which I politely responded by saying, "must have left them on Neptune." I guess in the world whence they come, going shoeless is simply unheard of.

Probably one of the best places in the world for barefoot free-running though, is Waipio Valley. The terrain consists mostly of soft sand, mud and soil, forest floors layered with fallen leaves, and streams. The trail to Hi'ilawe Falls is simply perfect for practicing my technique. The trail is but a rough vestige crossing the stream numerous times, allowing me the opportunity to employ some tricky maneuvers to get across large boulders or up to high ledges. It's an excellent test of my endurance, agility, and judgment... I need to keep my cat-like reflexes, balance, and graceful motion sharp, after all!

Dashing through darkness... that's another strange little thing I like to challenge myself with. I like to challenge my wolf vision and see how far I can get using no artificial light. I vividly recall having to feel my way out of a pitch black forest in Arizona because both my flash lights had burnt out. It's a nice little special skill to have... I could imagine cheapie flashlights burning out while I'm deep in some lava tube, where light is 100% non-existent. Now, getting out of that situation would require either screaming for help at the top of my lungs or feeling my way out by touch. I would actually prefer to do the latter. If such a thing were to happen to me, I probably would not panic, as I have been exposed to so many similar scary situations by now.

Many people must find this sort of thing utterly absurd, and I can understand why, but that doesn't bother me. I believe in self-expression and the fact that art can take any form. This is a way of experiencing freedom of mind, soul, and body altogether, and spiritual liberation. I can't stay in one place for very long without becoming fidgety and wanting to go climb a cliff or jump around some rocks. Anything that allows me to exercise my agility and creativity of movement and release energy. After all, I'm about as hyperactive as a hummingbird and have the metabolism of a little dog who runs hundreds of laps around the yard everyday. Free running suits me, I suppose.

There's a reason I often shuffle around like I'm grooving to a techno beat. Music is playing in my head on an almost constant basis, and I usually move accordingly with its tempo.

I may wait for a dry spell to hit this town before exploring the storm drain system. I'm sure it's absolutely prohibited by law, but that only makes it so much more exciting. The idea of getting all the way to the mall from the park near my apartment is a nice incentive. I could become the official storm drain exploration expert of Hilo! Of course, I would have to bring heavy duty flashlights and a few clothespins for my nose in case I end up getting stuck in a sewer. And the last thing I would want to do is open up a manhole cover from below in the middle of a busy street.

Totally unrelated, but rumour has it that Legolas is now working at the Hilo BK. I refused to believe it at first, but upon entering the restaurant today for a drink, Legolas was indeed operating the register. Long blonde hair, ponytail and all. Until Legolas opened his mouth I thought he was a girl, just like in the movies!

Jan 29, 2006

strange neglect

A child's abandoned toy. An old decaying shack on the coast, seemingly untouched for years. A room full of lonely toys with pleading eyes. A rotting bed and a plastic angel figurine, her wings supporting abundant life, impaled on the rusty mattress springs. A pervasive odour of unpleasant tidings. Two creatures, original tags of sale still attached, lie upon the blanket of dead leaves, meant for an adorer they could never quite reach.

Jan 22, 2006

He has a ________ plan for you!

Are you tired of prayers that just never get answered? Have you actually lost some of your faith in God because you didn't become the CEO of your favorite video game company while sleeping last night? Stop fussing with defective prayers that never work. We can help God give you what you always wanted!

Yeah... Yeah... I had the religious channel on for no particular reason other than amusement, and happened to notice a pastor talking about a "Formula for an Answered Prayer." Now, you can order the Formula for an Answered Prayer, which now comes in the form of a 5-pack of audio CDs for the low, low price of $24.99 (I'm not kidding about that).

Even praying properly costs money now, what?

Everything must be a formula nowadays, then. Everything is a system. Leave nothing to spontaneity or personal judgment. Praying must be like building an engine; surely there is a complex mathematical and logical procedure for praying that you must follow in order to enjoy proper results, just like so many other things that aren't divine. That's why we have pastors telling us that praying is like baking a delicious chocolate cake. You have to have all the ingredients ready, all carefully measured and proportioned.

How arrogant, greedy, and downright superficial can people be? Jesus. Of course there is little fault to be found with religion itself, but there is in the way it is exploited by dimwits who will sell their soul to make a buck and used to justify terrible decisionmaking, imprisonment (of endless forms) and war. And some people may wonder how I can be so content to spend consecutive days out in the woods all by myself. I don't call it leaving reality... I consider it getting in touch with reality.

Oh, and according to the same guy, God also has a financial plan. You can find out God's financial plan by paying $10.95 for a book called "Higher Finance"!

What a bunch of BULLSHIT.

Jan 19, 2006

Jan 10, 2006

Calling off the rain.

I was watching the National Geographic channel a few days ago and became fascinated by a program talking about scientists researching the possibility of being able to control the paths of hurricanes. They showed a computer image of Hurricane Iniki striking Kauai in 1992, then provided an alternate model showing the hurricane passing far to the west of the island after the storm had been deliberately thrown off course by a sophisticated system of satellites. Scientists believe that technology can be developed that will actually knock a hurricane off its projected path toward certain devastation, saving certain land masses from a direct hit.

Many people might laud this idea initially, especially on the heels of the last hurricane season. The ability to control these phenomenal low-pressure storms could potentially save thousands of lives and prevent billions of dollars worth of damage.

I say, humans already fool with mother nature too much, and have been paying for it for as long as I have been alive. Humans already control enough on this planet; must they attempt to control the weather too? I find the thought very depressing. The beauty in meteorological processes is that they are so unpredictable and cannot be directly controlled. Humans have indeed manipulated weather patterns over the centuries through such processes as urbanisation and desertification, but such changes occur relatively slowly, and none of it was done with a modicum of intent.

Giving a species with far too much intelligence for its own good the ability to directly control hurricanes, and more generally, the weather, is absolutely frightening. One thing always leads to another; something that no one could have predicted, things that have led to the collapse of entire societies throughout history. Such collapses usually occurred as a result of humans trying to exert too much control over existing ecosystems and natural processes.

Hurricane control is certain to lead to other things, such as control over general weather patterns. How saddening that would be... imagine, the weather outside today being entirely dependent on whatever mood the person in charge of the weather is! If he's sunny and cheery, we might just suffer a drought... and if he's emo, we'll be having problems with floods every other day.

All right, that's exaggerating things quite a bit. Though, it isn't difficult for me to imagine, in the future, a group of officials at the nearest weather control centre zapping out the moisture in the atmosphere for the purpose of providing fair, mild weather for a major urban event, such as a parade. "It will never rain on our parade, no sir!"

It isn't hard to predict what will result if people gain the ability to control the weather for malicious purposes. Meteoroterrorism. The term even has a nice ring to it!

Many may find it difficult to believe something like this is possible, but most ground-breaking new ideas do seem far-fetched at first. 50 years ago, who could have predicted we would be walking around with computers in our pockets that play music, receive phone calls, pinpoint our exact coordinates, and organise our lives?

Humanity may be the parasitic scum of the earth, but I can only hope it is never able to manipulate atmospheric processes as dramatically as it alters the planet's surface. Either way, nature will always have the upper hand, something all of us would do best to remember.

Jan 9, 2006

Maybe life is up and down but my life's been (what?)
'til now I crawled up your butt somehow and that's
when things got turned around, I used to be alive

But sometimes, some things turn into dumb things
and that's when you put your foot down!

God, Limp Bizkit's deeply poetic and soul-moving lyrics never fail to inspire me.

Jan 8, 2006

I'm Gumbi, damn it!

While thinking earlier about why most of my closest friends happen to be in their teens, it suddenly dawned on me that I have always been five or six years behind in life. I cannot deny that I am a "late bloomer" in so many things, and my official recorded age really does seem to be quite a few years ahead of... myself, or at least the pace I have inherently preferred to take my entire life. I certainly don't feel 23; I feel five years younger, and am usually inclined to behave that way. I wish I could call myself a "teenager" again. I realise now that for most of my teenage years, I felt like a small, sheepish child, and as I (all too rapidly) approach my mid-20's, feel more and more like a teenager, or at least how I imagine someone in their teens should feel. Is this peculiar or what?

I didn't get my first real job or have my first real "date" until I was 18. More amazingly, I didn't make a real human friend until I was in my late teens. 12, 13, 14, 15... those were all rather strange, awkward years I have a strong inclination to go back and "redo." I will not say they were wasted years, since each constitute a large building block in the construction of everything I have become today, but they were not pleasant, and simply not... memorable. I sincerely cannot remember any defining moments of my life from 12, 13, or 15. 14 was the undisputed champion year of uncontrollable suicidal angst, so at least I was playing my part as a teen in some fashion. Still, for as much as I remember, I may as well have just skipped from being 11 years old to being 16 years old. Maybe that is what happened to me!

I would love to turn a dial back five years and become 18 again, somehow managing to simultaneously. retain all the life experiences and lessons I have learned since I actually was 18. The reasoning for this is simple. Higher expectations are placed on those who are in their 20's. I am expected to have "grown up" by now. **Spins finger** There is nothing like reading all these success stories about 20-something year olds who become successful multi-millionaires. I apologise, but I do not ever see myself bothering to get savvy enough with cleverly manipulating real world opportunities to achieve such a status. I just want to get a job or career that effectively utilises a few of my talents and better qualities and supports a comfortable lifestyle and keeps me reasonably happy. I think I simply want to revert to an age where much less expectation is placed upon me. Life moves too fast for comfort. If you're still in your teens, realise the magic of it while it's there. Enjoy it, enjoy the hell out of it while you still can.

In contrast to many difficult, convoluted things I often ponder, I very easily came to the conclusion of why so many of my friends are a few years younger than I am. I am still a teenager at heart, and tend to identify with people that age much more easily. So many people out there are just... too serious, too rigid, too focused on serving society and making themselves work, work, work without taking time out for fun. I reserve plenty of time for fun and enjoyment, and I could not imagine living any other way. Especially in paradise, where the weather is warm year round and the outdoors is always beautiful and inviting.

There is one implication, however, I have not been able to drive out of my mind since conjuring up all this logic. How playful will my spirit be five years down the road? Will I still be a teenager at heart or much more closely resemble a 23 year-old career-oriented college graduate who is more inclined to work his ass off for the benefit of mankind than have any fun? With life, one can never tell.

And it's whenever I begin to feel useless or guilty of so often being counted as part of the human population that I simply go out and pick up a few bags worth of litter. It's the least I can do for Mother Nature, she who has nurtured me and my spirit so selflessly all of my life. With every disgusting empty beer can I pick up in the woods and carry out with me, I am converting another's act of apathy into my own concern for the benefit of the environment, and this is deeply gratifying. In spite of what those who have witnessed the brunt of my cynical side may think, I do search for every excuse to have faith in humanity. Such excuses are just very hard to find sometimes. When I do, however, it's a blast of fresh air... a burst of inspiration and encouragement to continue doing what I do and being who I am.

It does involve disappointments. Only a couple days ago, I was wandering along the scenic road out of Onomea and noticed a Bud Lite can laying on the ground next to a stream. Along the way to transporting it back to my car, I encountered a few empty glass bottles lying on the ground, so I attempted to carry as many of those as I could in one trip as well. Just before I returned to the road side, my eyes noticed an entire... miniature dump of empty beer cans half buried amongst a ledge. It was then that a very bitter feeling of disappointment washed over me and my initial impulse was to simply drop my armful of revolting trash out of utter hopelessness. I didn't, though. That would have made me feel even guiltier. I spent the next half hour cleaning up as many cans and other little pieces of trash from below the road until it became too dark to see. By the time I was done, I smelt strongly of damp earth and old, spoiled beer. I didn't really care, though.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself. I inherently mean to do good. I want to help improve the world for all species in whichever ways I possibly can. This involves cleaning up the environment, inventing new solutions, and helping people through their problems. It can be very discouraging, though, to observe daily the apathy and insensitivity of others towards everything and everyone which does not directly affect their well-being. When I think of a hero, I don't think of "America's troops." I think of that old man I always see riding his bicycle along the highway rain or shine, picking up large trash bags of litter entirely on his own volition. It's too bad most of this country's priorities and values differ so vastly from most of my own. Even that isn't going to stop me, though. I bought a button recently that said, "I'm Moving to Canada." I plan to hold on to that button.

Only now, in my early 20's, have I become close friends with people who share my benevolent qualities to a very close degree, and I practically rely on the inspiration they provide as well as their similar acts of goodwill. Oh, the things that can be accomplished through collaborative efforts...

Jan 6, 2006

Nblarbdønodhirþfink \m/

I've been obsessed with a band called Nblarbdønodhirþfink lately. Really hardcore doom/thrash/ice/sheet/precious metal group from Antarctica. The really funny thing about them is that they always tour yet never play at home. Anyway, they're just so... well, what's a term elegant and poetic enough to do their raw musical talent justice... awesome. Sometimes they even take a break from growling and sing normally, but the growling is so brutal and amazing anyway, trust me. I mean their growling often gets so intense you can barely hear the guitars over them, how awesome is that? Pretty awesome, let me tell you. FlirbÞlinƒyas Smith beats those drums like a woman, freaking unbelievable drumwork. The lyrics have to be awesome too but the band is so obscure I can't find any of their lyrics online anywhere. Just goes to show you they're too good to be on those crummy lyrics sites. If you start telling others about this band that is an awesome band just give ME credit for being hardcore enough to initially discover them. First of all definitely check out the songs "Above the Eternal Wingspans of Beasts and Demons," "Black Funeral Death Pissing Orgy," "My Heart Will Go On In An Organ Grinder," and "Down."

They're awesome.

Jan 4, 2006

See the light, don't roll back.

Want to...
...support businesses in your local community?
...be a better person?
...save money?

Don't shop at Wal-Mart.

Whenever I stroll into Wal-Mart looking for one particular item, I never leave with just one item. If I venture into the store seeking a fuse for my car, I'll leave with a fuse, three candy bars, a DVD, a novelty keychain lighter, a new bathmat, and a decorative cover for my saucepan lid. I could have spent $1.99, and that is all I should have spent. I could have paid for it in cash. Instead I ended up whipping out my credit card to cover a $30 charge at the register. No wonder Wal-Mart is so successful. Their store is, and this should go without saying, a world of impulse buys. Its LOW, LOW prices entice consumers into buying WAY, WAY more than they should.

Realising this, then, are many consumers really saving any money at all by shopping at Wal-Mart rather than "more expensive" alternative retailers, be it for groceries, household items, or garden? Most may be convinced they are, but my hunch is great that many are not. They're taking more crap home for less than they could take the same amount of crap home from other separate retailers who charge more for the same items. Is this necessarily a good thing? No. If I had gone to Checker Auto Parts just across the street, I would have paid $3.25 for the same set of fuses, perhaps, but would not have been able to purchase three candy bars, a DVD, a novelty keychain lighter, a new bathmat, or even a decorative cover for my saucepan lid. All items I can live without, all items I would probably be better off without. And good golly, I saved myself over $25 by shopping at a store that smelled more like motor oil than fast food grease and didn't try to tempt my every sense with mountains of junk.

Wal-Mart does have its sneaky little tactics, too. Putting a $29.99 toaster in its own special display out in the middle of the aisle will have many consumers thinking its a spectacular deal. It probably is. You could get the same item at Macy's for $49.99. Yet, it is likely the customer will bypass this product, which appears to be the toaster oven of cheapest quality, and wander down the nearest adjacent aisle featuring a series of different toaster ovens which most likely all come with higher price tags. It's all about comparison, after all. There will always be the "highest end" model, that which sports the biggest price tag but also appears to be the best of the best. And whether the shopper recognises it or not, herein lies the trap.

Some shoppers, especially those on a budget, will choose to purchase that clumsy hunk of junk parked in the middle of the main aisle. It will probably break down after three months, necessitating another trip to Wal-Mart to buy another crappy toaster. Others, perhaps even an equal or greater percentage, will look at the higher end models and think, "well, that appears to be of much better quality than the $29.99 unit, and it's only $20 more!" One of these, however probably isn't such a "steal." It might even cost more there than it does at certain other stores in the same town. But Wal-Mart wouldn't have you believe that. After all, they sell toaster ovens for $29.99.

Though, it sure knows how to give lazy Americans convenience in a one-stop shopping experience. Heck, you don't even have to drive to a separate McDonald's since there is already one built in to the store! But it all comes around to basic shopper tendencies. One-stop shopping isn't necessarily a good thing for those who are easily grabbed by the merciless hand of impulse buying, also known as those who return home with more junk they never planned to purchase before heading out than "necessities." That store symbolises America oh so well. Efficiency, excess, uniformity, convenience, unculture. When I gaze upon so much of the obese scum that waddles down the aisles of Wal-Mart, I see the entirety of America within four brightly lit walls. I get terribly disgusted. Stepping into Wal-Mart from a Hawaiian parking lot is like being ejected into another universe, a hellish realm portraying the threatening familiarity of sinister American values and heavily watered-down, mechanised mediocrity. It makes me queasy.

I don't wish to be so tempted to buy so much useless junk. I already have enough as it is. If anything, I should be getting rid of stuff, but as an American, that's what life is all about for me. Stuff. But seriously, that's one of the reasons I enjoy camping so immensely: getting away from stuff. If I had no stuff, I would be just as happy living in a tent rent-free. Recollections of my brother insisting we take the portable colour TV when my father took us camping as kids makes me shake my head and sigh. The signals I want to catch while basking in the great outdoors can only be received by my internal spiritual antenna.

Kudos to those Wal-Mart shoppers who can walk in the store, get exactly what they need and nothing else, and run back out before being tempted to impulse purchase. I'm not claiming they don't exist. Unfortunately, they still shop at Wal-Mart, and support child labour in sweatshops in China. I honestly feel like a better person going down to the farmer's market to purchase produce and local crafts straight from the farmers/craftspeople, as opposed to going to Wal-Mart and buying a few health-devastating bags of candy and mass manufactured wooden boxes made in Taiwan.

Thus, I am challenging myself to not be seduced by Wal-Mart's unfathomable allure. They are open until midnight, and I can wait until 11:30 to do my shopping. So what? I can do the same at KTA superstores. Wal-Mart's food prices are cheaper. So what? Food prices at KTA can be competitive when on sale, and KTA sells much higher quality foodstuff in much greater varieties. Where else am I to buy miscellaneous products like curtain rods, though? I'm sure there's a place. Once upon a time, as in just a few years ago, all of Hawaii's residents had to subsist without Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or even Costco. Sadly, I am willing to bet few could stand that, now. Amazing how one corporation can make such a tremendous impact in everyone's lives. Stop Kilroying, Mr. Gates, before I have to smack your nose with my awesome new electronic flyswatter. Trust me, it's made in America, and won't even require the use of a muscle to operate.