Saturday, May 31, 2008


I'm finally, finally trying to get real comfortable with iTunes and iPods. I've got a killer iPod and laptop, and I rely heavily on friends for content. Now I'm getting familiar with how to take care of this stuff myself so I know exactly what's going on. I don't need to be walking around and realize that the Sublime folder contains nothing. I also don't need the same artist to show up with 1000 different spellings. Most of all, this guy Kyle in Colorado managed to have a pretty annoying assortment of stuff that made it's way across the country onto my iPod. I'm taking measures to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen again.

So I'm figuring how to get everything OFF my iPod onto my laptop - then organizing it - then starting fresh with just what I want, organized how I want it. Sounds easy, right?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Books and bounds

I'm still trudging along through "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. It's a great book with great descriptions and research just like the other books he's written. For some reason I'm taking this one pretty slow. The last two - "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air" went fast. My eyes dissolved the words, and I scraped them up and ate them with a spoon.

Right now, I'm sitting in the Harne Family Minivan '08. My folks are shopping in Wal-Mart, and I'm sticking to the vickle to read while they take care of unknown Wal-Mart business. I'm getting sleepy. I sleep.

It's a good book - but I want to zip ahead to "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" which I borrowed last night. It looks like something I could dive right into and splash around for awhile. Other books might look like something I could ladle out in carefully measured scoops - or even descend upon ferociously. Some books could be wandered through ponderously, or rejected violently with big sweeping arm motions. There's a lot of latitude when describing how you read a book, so you might as well push the bounds of description.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ants and bars

It's 7:21, and I'm outside making a little bit of money. Not much money - but on a beautiful day like today, making money is almost like getting away with something. This is my second pizza delivery that I've taken on foot. If you walk the delivery instead of riding the bicycle, it takes longer. That is a very good thing. More time outside. The foot delivery also helps if you like to look at a whole mess of ants doing ant-work. I did just that at 7:21, on the same block as the delivery. When it's nice outside, and you're watching a mess of ants, everything feels right like it should.

Headline: possible catatonic drinking scenario takes a swift turn for the best.

I went back to Newtons. The bar that exists where there used to be a "Newberry's" department store where, as a tiny little man, I looked at shitty toys and bought lighters for 50 cents. Now it's a swanky bar and restaurant, and as I said I went there again. It didn't take long for Hailey (dreadlocks, 26) a sincere and friendly traveler, to convince me that she is pretty cool. "Hard day?" she asked as I rubbed my head like it might have been just that. "Nope - easy as shit - every day is easy as hell." is something like what I said. Conversation followed. She introduced me to Tim the suited lawyer, and it didn't take long for me to be convinced of his genuine sincerity, and awesome views and ideas. I also met Matt, the guy who graduated high school in my sister's class, and was in a band that I liked a lot. I thought that meeting an actual plurality of people in Kennett Square who could hold a non-superficial conversation was unlikely. When I got to the bar, I expected to say "Lager" five times, and be done with it. But no. Talking and hanging out occurred instead. Hope is restored for future enjoyable social interactions everywhere. If it can happen in Kennett Square, then I don't have to move into a cave or under a pile of leaves.

However, this question remains: Is this type of scenario only possible at a bar? These people are also great outside of the bar setting, as I learned when we walked and sat and chilled and talked. But - how would I have met any of them if I hadn't decided to go into a bar? I know it's possible, but far less probable, especially at night in Kennett when I'm half desperate to do anything at all. Do I need to go to a bar to find people who don't hush up and avert their eyes? Should I be trying harder to dissolve pathetic social barriers? Should I get a big nasty tattoo that looks like a beard of black wispy flames? That was three questions, and I think the answer to at least two or three of them is yes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sleeper Cycles

7:21 - I'm putting some more shit up for sale on my Sleeper Cycles blog. I was gonna reserve that blog for actual sleeper cycles - bicycles that are all hooked up, but low key - but now I'm just using it for any bicycle thing I have for sale. I like the format.

I still have all of my tools, work bench, charging phone and iPod/boombox sitting outside. That's a product of laziness, and I'll address those items after I get another black and tan. I did manage to make a really cool fixed gear for tall guys who like pink. It totally whips. I'm out of practice, and it's a good thing I put on some pedals with toe clips. Got my ass lifted off the seat a couple times.

7:21 also found me doing all of this stuff on a laptop that my parents got for me, pulling pictures off the SD card from the digital camera which they also got me. It's not my birthday, I think my lazy simplicity just filled them with pity. In any case whatsoever, I'm super happy with this setup, and I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Driving toward West Chester...

... from Kennett. I'm going to West Chester to see Danielle and Gary. My ostensible reason for the trip is to learn how to change my own van-oil. Gary agreed to point at things and tell me what to do. I know it's "stupid easy" so I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't changed my own oil before now. Well the oil store is closed at 8, and I pretty well know that, so now I'm just headed to West Chester to hang out. I have work tomorrow, so that arrangement is fine. I'll sleep out on the street in a quiet residential zone. I really just want to sit around with those guys anyway. I could use some talking and relaxing.

Me and Gary and Danielle talked a lot, and they listened to me scrape off brain fungus onto their coffee table. We talked about my feelings about things, and why feelings don't matter, and yet why maybe they should be respected all the same as long as they don't clog up the big scope of things. If that sounds convoluted, that's just the nature of brain fungus. Don't call the doctor. I ate some chips and I was feeling just fine.

I also got confirmation that Gary will slay dragons and wage war for me as soon as he gets the call. The feeling is mutual, Gary - I'll be there in the blizzard with my pjs on; sword drawn, serious look on my face.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jonas's yard

Jonas's back yard is a work of art. It's in the thick of Philadelphia, and it's a haven. There is a two story open-air bicycle workshop that turns out wacky welded projects like tall bikes and the experimental ilk. There's a 'hot house' with a fire pit that toasts the little shack-room to a very high temperature. That's a winter thing. The walls are constructed from big old wooden-framed windows. The fire pit vents directly out a welded metal chimney. It's aptly named, this "hot house." There's big tall shady trees that shade everything. The long shady yard is lined on both sides with tall walls, closing in this little paradise. All the building materials and construction stuff are found-things and supplies. There's tables and chairs and more big found stuff. Was that a horse statue? A big welded loud bell setup?

What I'm doing now is sitting around the primary fire pit and grill. We've been eating salmon and scallops and veggie burgers and zucchini. Jonas, Nat, Caroline, Matt and me. I have the best chair, and my bare feet are catching heat off the fire. There's three really good dogs present. The weather is perfect. I'm completely relaxed and satisfied.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Punch me in the face

It's another work nite. I'm discussing with a girl about whether the chicken parmesan is good or not. I told her that I liked it, and she accused me of possibly "just saying that." I told her no. It's actually good, and I eat it plenty. Then I gave her my guarantee; evidence of my sincerity. "If you don't like it, you can come back and punch me right in the face."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mobile blogger / Jazz bat

I've been sitting around with a laptop on my lap for hours. I've been looking at official videos and live videos from bands. I've been interneting, basically. Which is boring. To type about. But: at 7:21 I was sending a txt message to Google to set up a way to have my camera phone pictures appear online. Mobile blogging. 7:21, dude. That's what I'm up to.

I did manage to finish a bicycle. It was a pretty cheap-o bicycle, but it's running smooth for my $99 asking price. I truly believe someone could enjoy using the hell out of it for a long time. Especially in Philly: park this thing outside and you're set to go. With a u-lock and this bicycle you could get anywhere in Philly any time - smooth and easy, no problem, no worries, no need for Septa or a motorized vickle.

That's how I did it when I was in Philly. Cheap bicycle, tuned up, crushing the world. And by "crushing the world" I mean flying into center city like a bat out of hell. And by "bat out of hell" I mean over-adrenalized clown with a pink piggy helmet cover. Here's a link to the Jazz Latitude. Seriously.

Friday, May 23, 2008

riding with my folks / Tumbleweed homes

We just passed the Chatham Diner on 41, headed toward route one, which will takes us back home. We're returning from planting flowers on family graves in Millersville. I'm mentioning and describing Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and how crazy awesome they are. Let's chip in together and buy some land, and put little houses there and have a campfire. If you're interested, txt 'CAMP' to my phone with the dollar amount you're ready to plunk down now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

endless wipe down / 3wks till tour?

Pizza jobs are an endless wipe down. They are for me. The clock is running while I slowly make zero dollars and no cents. To make the clock go faster, I focus on wiping down everything in the restaurant constantly. That way I look busy and I'm focused on something. It works. I figure I can't just go on wiping stainless steel, counter top veneers and glass forever - it'll get old. So today I put in my two week notice. My job here lasted longer than I expected it to. I got a paycheck for $185 today, and I ate for free, and worked and accomplished very little. Not so bad.

I put in my two weeks here, and that sets a timeline in motion. I'll finish up in Pennsylvania, and probably (maybe, hopefully?) leave on my bicycle trip in three weeks. Let's say June 12. I'm not ready. I'm physically ready, and the bicycle will be ready after I bolt some cranks on. I've got my gear figured out. I don't know if I'm ready mentally. More specifically, the trip feels like nothing but a foggy notion. I know very well that pedaling out of the driveway will be a surreal foray into outer space. I'm going to check out Jupiter's moons.

Past the initial squeamish surreal churn into action, I suspect I'm going to have a great time. I don't feel like accomplishing anything else right now. A month or two of riding north and hiding in the woods seems to make sense. Technically, in my over-romanticized version, I could do this forever while scavenging and making just enough money to eat food and ride to new places - exploring, and seeing microscopically close every single detail. A major aspect of bicycle trips is the rose-smelling: meditative, contemplative, coffee consumative, sitting time. Unless you're going ultra-marathon, there's an abundance of time. You can think about endless hypothetical scenarios, and laugh at how ludicrous it is to be where you are when you are. I'm not looking for an epiphany. What I hope to gain won't strike quickly. I'm looking for a perception shift. I want to be happy with less, and comfortable existing at a moment in time rather than in a series of convoluted goals and worries. I'm going for survival on-the-fly; where you need almost nothing and experience almost everything. I want to spend time sitting and observing and being satisfied with just that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reclining, or Rudge cranks

I just got back from Perkins where I got an asinine breakfast including fried chicken on biscuits with biscuit gravy. No slacking - it also came with two strips of bacon. I couldn't drink my coffee. I'm not at all picky or 'elitist' - it was actually just that bad. Now I'm taking a break from all that to sit on the recliner couch while my mom reads, and my dad stays busy with something for a minute before turning on the end of Jeopardy.

I'm trying to make a decision about whether to keep a blanket on my legs, or go try to put some Rudge cranks on my bare Panasonic frame that I took on my tour last June. I wish I kept up with the 7:21pm project during that tour. I don't think I did. Did I write shit in that little notebook I bought in Quebec? I actually think I did. I'll look into this. In any case, here's more about Rudge cranks and Panasonic frames.

Possible accuracy: Back in the day - before all English 3 speeds were getting made in the Raleigh factory - 3 speeds often had ornate designs in the chainrings. Phillips and J.C. Higgins had their names carved in there. Rudge had a cut out hand, their logo, held palm out. Like "stop." At one point, I bought a set of these cranks off eBay. They're all pitted and rusty, but I got 'em. They're cottered cranks, so I haven't bothered to use them for anything. Aside from the cool hand design, cottered cranks are a considerable downgrade from sealed bottom brackets and square taper. They're way more of a pain to deal with, and you really kinda need a cotter pin press, which nobody has. Except me. I have a cotter pin press because I've nerded out on a lot of 3 speeds. I got mine from BikeSmithDesign in Minnesota. A guy in a basement. Mark. I have never been unable to install or remove a cotter pin since. It's great.

In my spread-out mass of random bicycle stuff, I also have the frame and fork of a Panasonic bicycle that I set up for my tour last June. I rode it from Philly to Val D'or Quebec. It's chromo-4130 double butted. It's great quality, but not in-your-face at all. This frame, as you would expect, has a standard English threaded bottom bracket shell.

Some years ago, I followed directions on Sheldon Brown's website to replace the cottered spindle in the bottom bracket of a Raleigh Twenty with a square tapered one. Now I'm thinking about doing the reverse. I'm considering using a cottered spindle with English threaded cups and installing my Rudge cranks on the Panasonic frame. Completely odd-ball, but that kind of thing appeals to me. It's all just sitting around anyway.

It's also noteworthy that I have a hand built set of 700c 3 speed wheels with a new Sturmey Archer SRF3 hub, and Salsa Delgado rims. I also have a really old Strumey Archer quadrant shifter, alloy northroad handlebars, and probably everything else right down to brand new cotter pins and Sturmey shifter cable. It's been running through my mind for a few days now. If it comes together, it'll be a great goofy bicycle. An elite 3 speed machine, showing respect to the old and the new. The tires shall be 37mm wide - and a radical goofy set of these do I have.

Clearly, I'm more interested in day dreaming about un-marketable yet awesome bicycles than I am in building marketable and smart ones. But I have the parts for both, and I plan to be putting them all together.... soon.... you know.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Matt Klopp is back in town. There's not much to do anywhere, especially on a rainy chilly day like this. We went to Philadelphia. The plan is to drink, pretty much. We stopped at Nat's. Sorry if this is boring, but aside from the thin entertainment usually provided by booze, it was pretty boring for me too. For some day at 7:21 I'll try to be climbing something, or accomplishing something riveting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Turn lane toward Wawa

I'm about to turn into the parking lot of the Wawa at Route 1 and Bayard Road. I have a mug, and I'm going to get a $1.15 refill of push-button cappuccino mocha express. First I'm going to get some van gas. After that I'm hanging out in West Chester, where I'll sleep in the same street parking spot I've used a whole lot.

I don't think anyone is living in vans around West Chester, and I don't think anyone notices or cares if I do. It's under the radar. My van kinda blends in, and I don't even really try to hide or find a great spot. I just stay wherever - same places several times, whatever. I threw the stealth van parking handbook out the window. If anyone notices me and has an anti-vehicle-sleep problem, I'll discuss it with them then. For now it doesn't look like anyone will notice or give a shit. Nights have been chilly, and I've been snuggling up in a sleeping bag. That's sleeping at it's best.

Also, let me tell you about these wool socks I have: they're the best. I've used them to keep my feet toasty in situations that call for this - but until recently I hadn't realized that they're good in reasonably warm weather too. And you can wear them for a week, and they're still comfortable and dry and don't stink. If I wear my cotton socks for one day now, they feel damp and useless. And cotton gets cold when wet - wool keeps being warm. I'm switching to all wool socks. They're expensive, but I think I'll only need about 3 pair. I've already got two pair with the third on the way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kennett. Laptop. Newspaper.

I'm sitting at the laptop that lives in the kitchen of my parents'es house in Kennett Square Pennsylvania. I'm trying to find out how many bicycle the Paris bicycle sharing program has. I'm doing that because I just read an article in the Daily Local about the effort to start a similar bicycle sharing program in Philadelphia. My folks kept the article for me.

I just ate chili with soup crackers, and explained to my parents how badass I am. I rode a 63mi cancer-benefit ride with Nat earlier, and I'm all pumped up and feeling great about it. I was worried that I'd fallen way out of shape, and I'm glad to know that that is not the case. I'm fine, and I'm decent on climbs sometimes. For this ride, I finished my KHS Professional 531 tubes & fork blades racing bicycle. It's a racing bicycle for sure, but a far cry from what 99% of the other riders were using. I was baggy shorts and a soccer jersey with wide 32c tires and convenient friction shifters. They were all expenso-carbon cycle spandexy clacking around with cleats and slim-tire-bumping trying to frustrate a derailer into position. In many ways, this is a rude and unfair characterization. Life continues. My bicycle is King of Bicycles.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ringing up pizza

I'm hitting buttons on a cash register. The buttons have names of pizza slices. Some dude just got 'chicken bacon' among other things. So I captured this sacred little moment of my life here. Recorded for all time is the fact that I'm standing around pushing a button that says 'chicken bacon' on it.

I think I'm just about ready to start working on all these bicycles I have leaned up outside. A week's wages in one day is starting to look more appealing. I'm almost ready to leap (crawl) into action. I even started another blog that's going to have pictures and information on the finished bicycles. Blogs are good for organizing such things.

Chicken fucking bacon...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Intentional communities

I'm reading descriptions of intentional communities from an online directory. You know: communes. In my mind, I picture driving to one and parking my van there for an extended stay somewhere really nice. Like an island in British Columbia on a farm. Kids and dogs are there. That could be positive. Missouri is a definite option, but my skull might not like it for long. It's on the way to Oregon though... so no loss if it's no good. I like the idea of living around people and eating together, and sharing work, but then keeping all my living space arrangements and logistics to the van. Is this a possible arrangement? It looks like it probably is. The major obstacle is combining fiercely independent flakiness with a system that compels shared work. It's probably perfectly fine, but I keep imagining the sound of hippies who whine. I'm afraid someone might think they've found an answer to a rhetorical question, and then want to share it. I bet there's good people who I want to meet all over the place. I want to see how an eco-village might work. I like the concept.

I was also reading some writing about gutterfolks in San Francisco, and that seems like a good place to go. Decade old writing. Eddie was there, and he made it sound appealing. And this guy's stuff that I was reading made it seem like a great friendly place to live in a van for some time. I could be by the ocean and also in a city where people tend toward friendly interaction. Seems a lot smarter than stewing around PA forever. Let's go. Who's in??! Oh wait - 'let me find my shoes first,' and other euphemisms for killing at least a few months in the mean time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sitting on a porch in Philly

I'm sitting on the porch that's attached to Shelly and her roomates'es row house in West Philly on a side street. It's in the same neighborhood that I used to inhabit when I lived two blocks away with Shelly. Shelly is a couple blocks closer to 40oz beer now, and the porch is nice. There's low key BBQ, and people sitting around, including Jonas. I'm a little out of it, but I'm having a good enough time. Good enough, because I'm doing something rather than nothing.

I arrived a couple hours ago after racing from the bus stop at the 69th Street terminal. The adrenaline was pumping. It's been too long since I've goosed all out in this area, shooting right through traffic down the middle of the street. I'm the kind of guy who does that thing where he tries not to put a foot down when traffic requires a stop. I inch forward and pause until I eventually run out of real estate.

This morning I got up extra early and rode the Diamondback City Bike to work in West Chester from Kennett. This moderately hilly and thoroughly familiar 13 mile route was way more tiring than it is when I'm in decent shape. After I got back to this area last July, I crushed this route. I was still used to 70+ mile days every day. I'm riding 65 miles in a charity event on Sunday, and I'm thinking it might not be so easy. I might only be able to crush some of the route. I'll probably have to crawl for part of it too.

After work was done at 3pm, I took the Diamondback City Bike on the 104 bus to Philly. The Diamondback got to see it's former parking spot - locked to a sign at 46th and Locust - as we whizzed by at a furious pace. I used to leave this same bicycle locked outside 24/7 in an area where bicycles definitely get stolen. That went on through all seasons and all weather. This was my first specifically outdoor bicycle. If it got stolen, I'd only be out about $20-30. I locked it through the frame and the front wheel. The rear wheel was unlocked, but had a bolt on hub. I think the only remaining part from my initial setup is the original (7spd SIS!) rear derailer and a blue piece of cable housing that goes to it from the chainstay cable stop. The original heart is the same. Northroad handlebars on a mountain bicycle with a rack and a milk crate. Friction shifting, bulletproof. Now everything is just nicer. Until two days ago, the DBCB never had a front derailer. I took it off the first time I fixed it up for myself, and decided I didn't need it. If I hit a big hill, I could push the chain to the small ring with my foot. When I got around to it, I could reach down and shift back up with the tip of my index finger. No need to stop. The need for this action was rare. Now I have a Shimano 105 derailer that I got for $10 at the Trexlertown swap. Now that I can shift - I do more. It's nice to pop it in the big ring sometimes, I'll admit. The Shimano bar end shifters in friction mode are awesome on this bicycle. I'm really happy with it.

If you want a 40oz in West Phila, and you are me, you're going to go to Pasqually's. If you want a falafel, you're going to the truck. I didn't go to the truck, but I did make a stop a 'Squally's to make sure it still existed after my absence.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perkins, personal cycles DONE.

I'm sitting at Perkins across from my parents. This is my second meal today, and both were at a diner with egg-based meals and coffee. I ordered an omlette with "lots and lots of broccoli." It turned out great. There was lots and lots of broccoli, and the primary flavor was best case scenario. A whole lot of broccoli spilling all over the omlette, and packing a fat tight tube of gossamer scrambled egg around even more broccoli. Well, now the omlette is done and me and my folks are talking while I continue to drink a carafe of coffee.

Before getting to Perkins I finished my road bicycle. A few things might change or get tweaked, but the KHS Professional is ready to roll. It has Rivendell "Silver" friction shifters mounted on Kelly Take-offs that I purchased a couple years ago when I was living in Boca Raton for 8 months. These takeoffs first graced my custom (used / eBay-bought) Hollands 531-tubing lugged racing bicycle. I talked to Chris Kelly himself on the phone to order them, and we chatted, and he's really nice. Now - after not selling them, and holding onto them for this long, they are on my new 531-tubing lugged racing bicycle. Appropriate to the core. I can't say anything nice enough about these Silver shifters. If you need some good friction shifters for anything - splurge, go for it. They're worth it for a bicycle you care about.

And YO - I finally finished up all the changes I wanted to make to my Diamondback "City Bike" (ride everywhere, do everything bicycle). Right now this bicycle is at it's finest. I'm relieved about this, because I'm probably going to ride it really far relatively soon. Quebec again. I swapped the handlebars for cheap 'Pyramid' brand steel northroad handlebars. These cheap steel handlebars can fit bar end shifters. That's more awesome than anything else I can think of right now. To get the bar end shifters to fit, you have to line up the internal wedge section so that the space between the wedge-pieces lines up with the internal seam that sticks up along the inside of the handle bars. You also need to lubricate the inside of the handlebars with grease and smack the whole deal in with a rubber mallet. It isn't too complicated, but it required some fooling around. Running cable housing under the grips wasn't the easiest thing either. There's a trick for that too, which I'll briefly describe: use a 4th hand tool to squinch the housing into place. So my City Bike (touring, conquering bicycle) now has bar end shifters. I also swapped out the bottom bracket and cranks, replacing them with the same BB and cranks that I used on my (and Nat's till Montreal) tour to Quebec last June (Philly to Val D'or for me). The cranks are Sugino XD-300 (like the XD-600, but with cheaper steel chainrings vs. alloy - same forging). And the crowning jewel, if that's a real term?: A double kickstand by Plescher. These are expensive, but you probably only need to buy one to last your whole life. If you decide to plunk down for it, you probably won't cry about it too much. When both legs of the kickstand are flipped down, the bicycle is held straight up at a 90 degree angle to the ground. No leaning - the front of the bicycle is lifted off the ground, and the support is super strong with no hairy leaning that can get a bicycle knocked over when you even think about breeze as a general concept. This is a sturdy kickstand. Try using a normal kickstand with a loaded bicycle. I don't want to, because falling bicycles are boring and I'm a busy man.

I'll try to post some pictures when I change the basics of who I am and how I typically operate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lack of beds

I'm in the process of hanging out with Matt Klopp. He's headed back to Brooklyn tomorrow, and we're sticking around West Chester today. I got out of work at 3pm, and entered a picturesque scene of the way things always ought to be. When the weather is nice, my mood is improved more than a little bit. The weather is perfect - couldn't be better. Any trace of anxiety or gloom is out. I'm as free and unencumbered as I need to be, and life is simple again. I've been slightly gloomy for days, as the weather was cold and there's been a lot of rain. Does weather really have that strong of a hold on me? I think, among other things, that it might. I don't want my brain chemicals to be so affected by shit-weather, so that's something I need to be aware of and work on.

Matt and I just went to Jake's Bar. That's the college town dive bar that everyone likes. The popularity of this bar seems unwarranted, but understandable. It's cheap to get drunk there. We shared two pitchers, which means I had a few more than a pitcher-load. Miller Lite. I wasn't very drunk, but I did have to pee in the bushes. Yea Miller.

Walking after that took us through the parking lot next to Safe Harbor, the shelter. Two women who seemed fairly distressed and very tired from driving asked if we had any idea where to go to find any kind of housing or shelter setup whatsoever. It really kills me to be powerless in this situation. I explained that aside from Safe Harbor, or the Salvation Army, I don't know who has beds. I called His Mission in Kennett, and that was out too. I'd really like to be able to help with something so basic, but what's the solution? Rent a warehouse, fill it with beds, and just open it to anyone? There really should be some way to design a setup with a ton of beds and couches but aside from said hypothetical warehouse, I don't know. Would negative consequences definitely occur from this arrangement? Worry about the consequences is probably the main reason this setup doesn't already exist. This bothered me for some time. I just wanted to tell them they could stay at my house. But I don't have a house, so that's that. They had a vehicle packed with stuff. The vehicle looked pretty nice, so did the stuff. It looks like they were leaving behind some kind of bullshit situation, taking just what was presumed necessary, and not having the details worked out at all. I feel proud of myself for having endless self sufficiency and confidence that I can handle any event, no problem. These ladies did not look prepared to handle anything. I wanted to help - but what? I'm not very well equipped to take anyone under my wing.

That all occurred right before 7:21. Right AT 7:21, Matt was talking to Alix - the girl he met in Key West. She's telling him all the things a man might want to hear, and I'm still a little bothered that I don't have a warehouse with beds.

What can you do though? I got plastered and set off an alarm.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reading the Reader

Rivendell has a periodical sent to members. I'm a member, and I'm reading this periodical, which is called the Rivendell Reader. I'm sitting in the back room in Kennett. This day contained a nor'easter, and a malcontent man. Me. Show me the sun, and send me off to the next place. I'm taking suggestions for how to run my life. I might not listen very well, but you can yell at me some.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Throw me in the river

Matt Klopp is in town, visiting from the splendor of New York City. I don't know if it's really splendid up there, but it sounds like he is making money and having a time. I don't remember when my watch beeped. It might have been at Newton's where I got one Hop Devil. I actually barely want to talk about that. My watch also might have beeped while we took a break to goof around outside the Brandywine River Museum. Or it could have beeped in between.

Remember when I said I smoked weed in my van with a random girl from a bar? Well I wanted to see if she was working: she was. I really might as well have had a beer under a bridge somewhere, because I don't have the nerve to talk to a girl anyway. "She seemed busy?" Or maybe just not then. I'm a real wordy acrobat in plenty of less important scenarios. Here's how I played this one: met a girl at a bar who was really cool to talk to - she leaves with me in my van knowing full well that it's my house and we're going to smoke weed and who knows what. We talk about stuff and have a good time. Great! So I should go back and engage in further conversation at minimum, but instead I wait for weeks before showing up and don't say a word. Just like I might do if I hated her guts rather than wanted her company. I'm not upset at this, but not simply amused either. My feelings are in between. As I put it before, most people's skin is a tight package containing blood and guts and fat and gore. My skin covers a bunch of fluffy teddy bears, and sometimes you might as well just throw me in the river.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Walking a delivery

It's a working night. My watch started beeping right while I was walking back from a delivery on Market Street. The place was only a few blocks, so I just walked the pizza over and left the delivery bicycle parked. I really don't mind this job - and for me that's a huge compliment.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hanging out with Josh

I met Josh through the use of Craigslist before I decided to go to Key West. I realized heartily at that time that I could definitely use some more friends around the West Chester area, and someone else might be in the same boat. Well I went over to Josh's a few times and he's nice and easy to talk with. Perfect. Also, we didn't completely lose touch, so now that I'm back from Key West I called him. I'm here drinking some vodka drink, and Josh "re-mohawked" my head and cooked pork tenderloin.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Buying Mickey's at Gee's

Gee's in West Chester at Market and New Street sells 24oz Mickey's cans. "Tall-ys" as I like to call them. I've bought a lot of them over the years. I came over here to Gee's with Julia, and I'm pretty sure that's where I'm standing at 7:21pm - but I might have been walking to or from there, or showing off my van.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I'm emailing Lydia who has a blog at this link: Freedom Van She moved into a van on March 3 '08. A mere few months after me. Based on her blog, which I read straight through, it sounds like her reasoning was similar to mine. Since our rationale and actions seem similar, I emailed her. I'm compelled to email people who have things in common with me. I've emailed people with the last name Harne, and I've emailed people because one time they made a cool bicycle. I'm emailing Lydia because her van is fucking awesome.

Earlier on today I made an expensive order of lots of parts from J&B (bicycle parts wholesale supplier) to try to fix up all those bicycle that I haven't been working on. Hopefully that was a great idea, and I'll get all these bicycles fixed and outta here, and then be rich. You know: not very rich.

I continue to feel drawn to a different area. I still need to tie up loose ends, but I think Vermont might be calling me. I don't know if that's the type of call that I'll answer. I might just bide my time here and try to relax until I leave. I'm out of shape with bicycling (relative to how I was), but don't know if I'm particularly worried about that. I think my body would like more exercise though. Seems to me that I lack motivation to accomplish simple tasks. I'm going to have to figure out how to do even less, and make that rewarding and sustainable. I think I just need to learn how to torch work some glass.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Driving w/ an iPod

I'm just about to turn off on the Paoli Pike exit from 202 headed south. I'm listening to this great song - a cover of "Rise Above" by the Dirty Projectors. This is part of a new playlist that Shelly put on my iPod - Nat's December Mix apparently. Good tracks here. I have a 20oz strong coffee buzz, and I'm headed toward the farm for smoking and drinking and chicken and parking. All of these things are under the umbrella of what the farm does best. If I keep showing up over there, I have a feeling I'll be shooting guns and driving tractors.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Updating my other blog, blabbing about bicycles

I have a blog that I have all but abandoned. It describes my transition toward living in a vehicle. It's at I have new information there about my feelings concerning where I am and what I'm up to - and also what I plan to be up to. I'm trying to find the right words to type as my watch beeps to tell me I should be freezing a mental image to form a description here later.

Unrelated to what I'm doing at the moment of 7:21pm: I heard Mates of State (a band), and really like it. I'm reading "Under the Banner of God" by Jon Krakaur, and really like it. I'm still not working on bicycles much. I did, however, work on my Trek 800 bicycle and ride it, and I don't like it. It was a roll of the dice: whatever. I also got my KHS Professional in a ridable form, and I do like it. My position is comfortable, but I want better parts. Better wheels, different shifters (bar end or Kelly Take-Offs that I have). Technically I'd like better brake calipers, but that's where I tell myself to shut up and relax. If I ever have a bicycle that I love and don't want to change anything, I'll be surprised. This KHS is getting close though - it's a nice bicycle for being fairly light fast and comfortable. It wouldn't work for touring though, 'cause it's not made for that. I'll likely do my tour on the Diamondback City Bike. I just keep liking that bicycle. Gotta get those Nirve cruiser bars off and switch to some good ol' northroad bars. Gotta swap the cranks and put a front derailer/shifter on too. The good news is that it's already got fenders and a rack which are both awesome. Upgrades and changes will not be difficult.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dog wash, owl retrieval

I'm at the farm off Wawaset road again: where James and Laura and Paul live. James and Paul's extremely old grandparents live in the big house, and I never see them. The rest of this huge farm is bare fields and forest maintained by my friends. There's a young dog here that seems to be mostly a lab if not 100%. She's named Luna, and she runs around constantly chasing animals and rolling in muddy ponds and streams.

I'm standing here beside the barn watching James hose the mud off Loon-Dog, and scrubbing some dog shampoo on for good measure. James's father is also standing here. He stopped by to water some asparagus. James is giving turn by turn directions explaining how to find the location of the place where he took a great horned owl with a busted wing. James's father is going to retrieve this owl, and it is my understanding that the owl will return to, and maybe live on, the farm. The picture that I saw of this owl is a riot. Not to make fun of crippled animals, but it has the most serious look on it's face, and the wing is sticking straight out like it's pointing at something. Owls have the ultimate poker face, but you still feel bad for the guy. So James took it to a crippled creature fixer.

I came over here earlier to assist with (watch while drinking beer) the installation of some new fence posts to replace some that have rotted out. The farm is a good place to spend time, and one of the better places I've seen, period(.) I will park here tonight, and that's just plain fantastic.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wikipedia: mohawk

The title says it. I have a mohawk that's getting longer by the day. I've had a mohawk for a lot of the past lot of years. I don't know the numbers. In high school, I had spikes in the front of my hair, or just a tall wall of hair in the front. All the rest was buzzed. I didn't have a mohawk until some time after high school when I sought slightly less-traditional hair. I never spike or dye my hair anymore, and I'm pretty sure I've never spiked or dyed it since high school. In fact, at 25 years old I'm afraid that I might be too old or grown up for goofy hair. This thought crosses my mind, and I tend to ignore it. I'm comfortable with a mohawk; don't wanna chop it off. On the contrary, I've been considering spiking and dying it. I like spiked and colorful mohawks a lot. I have a decent length, and it's just kinda curly and random. It's a lazy-hawk. I have a slight ethical aversion to spending time and money on pointless aesthetic styling. This has kept my mohawk floppy for a really long time. I also have an aversion to all kinds of stuff, which results in little 'mini rules' that govern how I live. I've come to realize that some of of my rules and policies are just a product of over-thinking. Sometimes you should just do whatever you want. Don't be a blind, dull, boring shit-head - but don't paint yourself into a corner with your own policies. That's why I spent $2.99 on a ring tone. I spent $2.99 to protest my own brain, and managed to not feel guilty about starving children. Now I'm looking at mohawks online. If I were really true to myself I'd get that face tattoo I've been thinking about. Keep in mind that you only have one life with this brain and sense of reality. The more I remind myself of that the better.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Going to Philly, White Dog, Trexlertown

At 7:21pm I'm driving toward Philadelphia on route 3. I'm picking up Nat and Caroline, and together we'll head to Trexlertown for the spring bicycle swap meet at the velodrome. The swap is tomorrow: we're camping out to avoid a bleary-eyed early drive.

Before all that, I'm going to see Shelly. If you don't know who she is, I'll fill you in. She was my girlfriend for a thousand years and we narrowly missed getting married. It's fine and friendly to talk, but seeing her setup in Philly is seeing a vestige of something familiar that was once also mine. The good thing is I'm actually happier now, and anti-jealous of the living situation. The tripped out and warped part is seeing all of the shit that we owned collectively. The worst is the bed and the dog, and the familiar feeling of laying on the bed with the dog. No: the worst is seeing the dog's face as you walk out the door. Penny. My 9-year-old puppy.

Next I went to a get-together with beer and people who I haven't seen in a little bit. I stayed for a short period, then it was time to hit the road. Nat drove my house while I sat in the chair and Caroline had shot. We heard some NPR. We got to the grass covered field adjacent to the velodrome parking lot around 2am. This is where the overflow parking will be tomorrow when people arrive in a massive influx. Already here are about twenty cars and the tents of other people who came early to avoid a tired A.M. drive. A bunch of hip skinny bicycle dorks, more or less. Nat and Caroline had a tent; I slept in top-comfort inside my mansion. There's nothing like an awesome parking spot and waking up right where you need to be in the morning. Van living: seriously really good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Camping at Pulpit Rock

I'm sitting around the campfire with a group of people who I just met today. This is a hiking and camping trip organized by Andrew and his outdoor club. When I got back into town from Key West I heard there was a new bicycle shop in West Chester. I found it, and Andrew is the head mechanic there. He's an early 20's bicycle outdoorsy person, and I'm a guy who just got back to town in a pretty social mood. We have plenty to talk about. He told me about this trip he was planning, and I signed up right away. I didn't realize it was a group affiliated with the college, but I didn't really care too much when I found out that it was.

We climbed up to the summit, and set up camp. The hike was pretty easy: 1.7 miles, 1500 feet. This is a great spot. I mentioned living in a van earlier, and several people knew who I was from the article in the Philly Inquirer that ran before I left for Key West in the U-Haul Truck House. One guy, Jason, really took the article to heart and we talked about his plans to convert a van. He seemed genuinely excited to meet me. I felt good that people thought positive things about that article, and it boosted my ego to have a quasi-celebrity moment. Nobody who didn't see the article seemed to care much, but those who saw it seemed impressed.

I started the fire that we're all sitting around now. There's eleven of us. It rained a little bit earlier, and the night is chilly. I packed all of my gear in a normal-sized backpack. This contrasts sharply with the super gear-heavy full hiking packs and getups others came with. I volunteered to carry some stuff for other people, but I was still traveling super light. I brought my Outdoor Research bivy sack, my 40 degree sleeping bag, my backpacking air matress, a fleece layer, a North Face pullover ($3 thrift shop find), some thick wool socks, a warm hat, and some marijuana in case: 1) someone else is smoking 2) I'm the last one awake. Turns out I was the last one awake, and not very tired at that. I scooted off to a big clearing with maintained grass where there are several huge telescopes owned by a local telescope-owning group. They're just white buildings with a dome-shaped roof, dispersed around the yard. As I sat there staring across the yard - breathing, thinking, being calm - I realized that there is almost constant sound from trucks passing on the highway below. No silent moments. I thought this was a shame. It gave this perfect little spot a sort of molested feel. Realizing this didn't bring me down at all, but it did make me excited to see unmolested territory. This is exactly my goal on my next bicycle trip. I'm planning on leaving in June or early July. After smoking and sitting, I went back and poked the fire back awake. I sat for some time, and when the fire started to die down again, I headed for the bivy sack.

It's been since last June that I've used the bivy sack, and this was the coldest night I've spent in it. The bivy sack is a tent which is barely larger than a sleeping bag, and when you slide in you should be pretty much set up the way you're going to sleep. You can read a book by flashlight while laying on your side or your stomach, but you can't do your makeup and change all your clothes. I was stoned and under-practiced. I got in and I was hot. I was wearing both of my layers and all the rest of my clothing besides shoes. I deemed this too hot, and soon convinced myself that I should strip down and 'snuggle up' (as I pictured it) in my sleeping bag. I got out and stripped to boxers. This requires sliding all the way out of the bivy. I slid back in, and cinched up the sleeping bag. My sleeping bag is light, and it packs small - but it is not good for staying warm. 40 degrees, whatever. That's subjective. I kinda slept. A few hours later, I slid out again and put all my layers and stuff back on. Then I kinda slept some more.

I was glad to get re-acclimated to bivy sleeping before my bicycle trip. I'm hoping to make bivy-sleep second nature. There are many variables to consider when choosing a tent and choosing your gear for bicycle touring and similar activities. In spite of a slightly uncomfortable night, I am confident that I chose the right stuff for me. I have decided to abandon all of the positive aspects of any tent in favor of the nearly invisible sub-2-pound bivy sack. I prefer the idea of being invisible and portable above all else. I can break camp in under one minute, no exaggeration. All I do is slide out of the bivy, and stuff the entire bivy/ sleeping bag / air mattress into a bag. Then I'm ready to roll.