Journal entries from the United States

Los Angeles, I’m Yours

Los Angeles, California, U.S. Los Angeles is all about the car. Shiny, air-conditioned comfort, gliding you soundlessly from one place to another without the need to interact with anything in between. But I have discovered that if you abandon the car for the subway and your own two feet, the illusion that L.A. is just a model train set world — tiny, plastic and devoid of any ground beneath the ground — fades and you find yourself, for a time, in a real city.

(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley

Death Valley, California, U.S. Watching the sun rise over Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, wondering why I have never been here before.

So Far, I Have Not Found The Science

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, U.S. A canoe trip through the Okefenokee Swamp down in the southern most corner of Georgia. Paddling the strange reddish and incredibly still waters. Begging alligators, aching muscles and the kindly folks of Stintson's Barbecue all getting their due.

How to Get Off Your Butt and Travel the World

Athens, Georgia, U.S. How do you make the leap from cubicle daydreams to life on to the road? You want to travel the world, but, like me, you have a million excuses stopping you. How do overcome the inertia that keeps you trapped in a life that isn't what you want it to be? Here's a few practical tips and how tos designed to motivate you to get off your butt and travel the world.

No Strangers on a Train

Athens, Georgia, U.S. We mythologize trains because they harken back to an age of community travel, a real, tangible community of travelers, not just backpackers, but people from all walks of life, people traveling near and far together in a shared space that isn't locked down like an airplane and isn't isolated like a car; it's a shared travel experience and there are precious few of those left in our world.

Leonardo Da Vinci and the Codex on Bunnies

Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. A few pages from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks make a rare trip outside Italy, to Birmingham, AL, of all places. But the Birmingham Museum of Art is home to far more alarming works of art, works which depict the eventual, inevitable, bunny takeover, after which all the elements of our reality will be replaced by bunnies. Seriously. You heard it here first.

Elkmont and the Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, U.S. Pigeon Forge is Myrtle Beach in the mountains. Redneck weddings cascade straight out of the chapel and into the mini golf reception area. Pigeon Forge is everything that's wrong with America. But we aren't here for Pigeon Forge, it just happens to have a free condo we're staying in. We're here for the mountains. Smoky Mountain National Park is just a few miles up the road.

Rope Swings and River Floats

Mountain Cabin, Georgia, U.S. Two weekends ago we went up to the mountains, just outside of Dahlonega GA, and floated the Chestatee River using inner tubes, various pool toys and one super-cool inflatable seahorse. Unfortunately, proving one of my travel mottos -- you can never go back -- a return trip proved disastrous.

In Love With a View: Vagabonds, Responsibilty and Living Well

Athens, Georgia, U.S. Why all the vitriol about a seemingly innocuous concept -- that traveling doesn't have to cost a lot of money, isn't all that difficult and hey, you can even go right now? People like us, who feel tied down by responsibility, find the suggestion that we actually aren't tied down patronizing and yes, elitist.


Athens, Georgia, U.S. The trees are in full technicolor swing. The land is slowly dying, and not just because it's Fall, we're also in the middle of a prolonged drought and this year the leaves are opting for a James Dean-style, leave-a-good-looking-corpse exit. If you're a leaf and you've got to go, do it with class.

On The Other Ocean

Catalina Island, California, U.S. Consider what would happen if your house were tilted 30 degrees to the left, how this would complicate ordinary activities -- like say walking. Now throw in a bouncing motion that lifts the floor five or six feet up and down in a seesaw-like motion on a perpendicular axis to the 30 degree tilt -- things become more like riding a seesaw that's attached to a merry-go-round which is missing a few bolts. That's sailing.

Being There

Myrtle Beach Airport, South Carolina, U.S. Myrtle Beach does not exist. Nearly everything in Myrtle Beach is a paltry derivative of some original form. For instance, most of the country has golf courses, in Myrtle Beach there are endless rows of putt-putt courses, where most towns attempt to draw in big name musical acts for their tourist venues, Myrtle Beach is content with impersonators.

Sailing Through

Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. The rumors are true. I moved back to the south; Athens GA to be exact. But I hate staying in one place for too long, so after a month or two in Athens I headed up to Charleston to visit a friend. The south is curious place. If you've never been here I couldn't hope to explain it, but it's not so much a place as an approach. A way of getting somewhere more than anywhere specific. Perhaps even a wrong turn.

Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove

Los Angeles, California, U.S. It's strange how you can plan something, go through all the motions of making it happen without ever really understanding what you're doing. I've been doing this for the better part of three years now. I realized recently that I have no real idea how I came to be here.

Everything All The Time

Los Angeles, California, U.S. I don't know if I'm just overly paranoid but when I call up memories in the dark hours of the Beaujolais-soaked pre-dawn, I see a collection of mildly amusing, occasionally painful series of embarrassments, misunderstandings and general wrong-place, wrong-time sort of moments. Which isn't to imply that my life is a British sitcom, just that I'm not in a hurry to re-live any of it.

The Sun Came Up With No Conclusions

Los Angeles, California, U.S. "And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that non-existence shall take us back from existence and that nameless spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus." -- Robert Anton Wilson and Kerry Thornley. Good luck and Godspeed Mr. Wilson.

Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose

Los Angeles, California, U.S. Traveling soul. Soul is not something out there or in you, it's the place where you meet the out there; something very similar to what I think James Brown meant — a mixture of the secular and the spiritual, the profane and the sublime.


Los Angeles, California, U.S. New York, New York. John F Kennedy airport 1 am date unknown, sleepy looking customs guard stamps a passport without hardly looking at, without even checking to see where I had been. A light drizzle is falling outside and the subways extension to the terminal never looked so good. What is it like to be home? I don't know, I'll tell you when I get there.

Twenty More Minutes to Go

Newport Beach, California, U.S. Well it's the night before I leave. I just got done pacing around the driveway of my parents house smoking cigarettes… nervously? Excitedly? Restlessly? A bit of all of those I suppose. I walk across the street, over the drainage ditch and head for the swing set at the park. Right now I'm swinging in a park in Costa Mesa California. Tomorrow France. Weird. [Photo to the right, via Flickr]

Travel Tips and Resources

Newport Beach, California, U.S. An overview of the things you might want to bring on an extended trip, as well as some tips and recommendations on things like visas and vaccinations. The part that was most helpful for me was learning what I didn't need to bring — as it turns out, quite a bit. Nowadays my pack is much smaller and lighter.

The New Luddites

Newport Beach, California, U.S. An older, non-travel piece about Google's plan to scan all the world's books and Luddite-like response from many authors. Let's see, someone wants to make your book easier to find, searchable and indexable and you're opposed to it? You're a fucking idiot.

New Adventures in HiFi Text

Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. This project is no longer maintained or necessary thanks to projects like Pandoc which can take Markdown use it to create LaTeX and a dozen other types of files. It's just here as an historical artifact of my own amusement.

Farewell Mr. Hunter S Thompson

Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. Hunter S. Thompson departs on a journey to the western lands. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas delivered the penultimate eulogy for the dreams of the 1960's, one that mourned, but also tried to lay the empty idealism to rest.

The Art of the Essay

Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. I generally ignore internet debates, they never go anywhere, so why bother. But we all have our weak points and when programmer Paul Graham posted what might be the dumbest essay on writing that's ever been written, I just couldn't help myuself.